Den Haag based label, Bunker Records, have been turning out some phenomenally eclectic stuff for nearly a quarter of a century, since the first Unit Moebius records were funded by the proceeds of their Acid House squat parties in the early 90s. Along the way they’ve championed some big names and plenty of smaller ones as well, and their discography – spread across the tangle of sub-labels like Viewlexx, Murder Capital, Panzerkreuze and Acid Planet – reads like a true history of Dutch Electronic music with Legowelt, I-F, DJ Overdose, Rude 66 and Unit Moebius themselves rubbing shoulders with out-of-towners like DMX Krew, Fanon Flowers and Perseus Traxx.
The Klankman EP, – part of a salvo of records released a couple of weeks ago (and included Hamburg DJ Helena Hauf’s best material to date) – is as true to the spirit of Bunker as you would wish. There is probably nothing in it that would make Disclosure fans relinquish their false idols, but for the rest of us, those of us looking for something with bite and funk in equal measures, there is much to be excited about.
Losing Control is a twisted, exploratory acid work out drenched in a rain of high pitched 303 chirps that give it a strangely timeless feel even as the tune itself is directed by a writhing, dirty bass and ratchet like claps played over a beat that is one kick drum away from collapsing on itself. I wouldn’t ordinarily comment on the mixdown – it’s largely outside my understanding, belonging as it does amongst other black arts like witchcraft, or DIY – but this mixing on Losing Control at once both widens the bubbling acid madness and locks you into an almost claustrophobic ride.
Dangerous Night is almost classic Acid Techno of the sort Bunker have been doing for so long. It’s blueprint is less European, though, as it is pure Chicago jack. The buckling 303 riff recalls the classic Hot Hands by Hot Hans Hula but where that tune is thick with amiable, ambling humour, Dangerous Nights is darker – bleaker even; party music for an unquiet soul.
Love Hurts is the choicest cut here. A choir of bleeps and a warped, almost intelligible Phuture-esque vocal lend velocity and iciness to a viciously primal bassline that manoeuvres itself repeatedly for the kill, only to pull away at the last possible second. The whole things drips with funk. The drums and percussion are about as direct as you will find, holding court amongst the snarls and squawks. It’s one of those rare gems – a track that comes out of nowhere and should promise nothing other than the excitement of the moment even though you know from the first that you will be playing it over and over again. If you are anything like me, by the second listen you’ll be trying to work out ways to get it into every set you play.
In comparison Insomnia is much the lesser track. Perhaps suffering in Love Hurts shadow, it seems too much like too many disparate elements failing to properly bond. it seems unsure of itself. It’s the most experimental thing on the record, sure, but it seems to lack an understanding of what it is meant to be and never seems to be afforded the opportunity to find out, which is odd considering it’s length. The 303s here are reconfigured into a sort of sub-Plastikman mode once so common to a particular style of acidy techno, and they seem to steal the thunder from the quite stark and beautiful pads that underpin the piece. It’s not a bad track, in fact, it just doesn’t live up to the promise of the others on offer. But really, given the quality on show here, the occasional flaw serves to make everything else seem so much more alive.