Thursday, June 17, 2010

Further down the rabbit hole...

This is the first in a round of reviews. There's techno from DNCN, Adam Jay and Angel Alanis, and a few off the wall, "not quite dubstep but sorta" releases in there from Helixir and Fantastic Mr Fox. And I had to share one of my favorites of late, Wireman, who's bringing the variety and exquisite production. I have been picking up music at a rapid pace this month. I quit smoking, so perhaps I am attempting to realign my addiction into further music nuttery? I hope so, because this is an addiction I can have with no regrets. ;) Reviews and links are after the cut. Annnnd here we go!

DNCN - Kitchen Sink EP (Dust Science)

After hearing DNCN's contribution to the awesome label Future Days, as well as his collab with Mark Henning, I always stop and take a listen when I see those 4 letters pop up on a release. "909it" comes out swinging, with (what else?) straightforward 909 hats, claps and snares driving the rhythm. It drops down into an acidy chugger of a bassline, before building right back up into a lean monster complete with synth stabs that keep the techno funk humming. Killer tune. "Swiss Army Knife" is one that is so promising, but ruined by a cheesy movie sample. It's got a big massive monster of a bassline underlying it all, but I just don't know if I can get past the damn sample (It's from Videodrome, for those who care). Rounding this one out is "Kitchener", which swings wide into the depths of stripped down dirty bass before the melodic synth kicks in, making this one a classy early morning tune for the stamina crew to work it out.

Adam Jay / Angel Alanis - You Don't Know Jack EP (Monoid)

What happens when you get two Midwest techno producers together, combining the dirt and boredom of Indianapolis with the history of Chicago jack? With "You Don't Know Jack" you get a percussive rager of a tune that keeps the space open, while bombarding you with a subbass whomp and the classic 4/4 snare jack action. Some tunes are just made to work your body. Count this one amongst them. "Life" is a bit more spacious, dropping the tempo and opening up into a bit more dub influence with the reverbed synths echoing their way through the background. "Bounce" plays with rhythmic space and an all-encompassing bass push, doing just what the name says. It's quite refreshing to hear some real Midwest techno that unabashedly plays in the dirt.

Wireman - Armour EP (Prime Numbers)

I don't know who this guy is, or where he comes from, and that is somehow appropriate, given the variety he hands us with his first release. From the semi-distorted opening beats of "Armour", Wireman lurches into a slow 4-to-the-floor beat that hangs out somewhere between dub techno and Aphex Twin, before shifting mid-song into something beautiful, sophisticated and yet still tinged with dirt and melancholy. "Forge" is an ambient landscape of synths and echoes playing with the occasional tease of a beat that could be the basis of a sci-fi score. The opening beats of "Axiom" make me feel as if Skynet could just be making its first move. Heading into a dubstep tempo with decidedly more robotic drums, this reminds me of one of my favorite tunes on Electron Industries back in the mid-90s that still makes me weak in the knees. While I have been decidedly over the whole halfstep feel of dubstep lately, somehow this takes the formula, retunes it to a different frequency, and grabs me completely. Closing out with "Perspex", we find ourselves firmly in electro territory, breaking it down into into a lovely square bassline underpinning panning synths from outer space. Essential release, for those with an open mind and perhaps slightly schizophrenic musical tastes.

Fantastic Mr Fox - Sketches EP (Black Acre)

This is another one of those things that falls in the cracks between genres and makes it rather difficult to quantify. Usually that means I will end up liking it. Starting things off with a skippy beat reminiscent of 2 step, then falling into 8-bit data frying madness, "Sketches" tells you right away this ain't gonna be your run-of-the-mill "dubstep" record. Nope. Still have the sub bass, wrapped up in digital spasms and beats skittering around with quite a bit of bounce. Crackle and dirt are the foundation for the galloping beats of "BrickAbrac", reminiscent of the run-in grooves of vinyl, but then ramming directly into the blippity bitsmash of digital noise. It's a dichotomous, delightful romp of a tune. With the third cut, the tempo drops a bit, heading into deep and housey territory. "If I" is mesmerizing and filthy, with offbeat rhythms and vocal samples that sounds like the bastard child of dubstep, garage and house. I challenge house DJs to take this one and run with it. Rounding this one out, is a pretty bangup techno take on "Sketches" from SUBTRKT. Once again, I challenge techno DJs to take a leap and work this one in just for shits and giggles. All in all, a quirky, warm group of tunes for the more adventurous DJs of all styles.

Helixir - Convultions (7even)

This French label came running out of the gate from day one, hitting squarely in the more colorful and funky end of the dubstep continuum, and once again this is no dissapointment. Helixir takes it even further into the percussive realms with this one, with "Convultion" being an example of crafty beatwork, keeping the headnodding lurch of classic dubstep, but working the rhythmic elements into a slightly more spastic framework at the same time. This is a stripped-down cut, with beats and bass in the forefront. For the second side, he brings back a bit more of the melodic garnishes to give the frenetic beatwork some glue, but "Let Me Drive Now" still remains spacious and beat heavy, with only quick breaths of melodic sound, chopped and dubbed for maximum head fuck.

Stay tuned for more reviews. I have SO many tunes to go through, but I stick to picking the standouts. Lucky for you I LOVE to share my secret weapons! ;)