NGLY: Service Cost HH2 – L.I.E.S

NGLY’s début release on the LIES-not-LIES affiliated label Russian Torrent Versions was one of the highlights of the year so far. Anyone who never made it farther than the usual 60 second clips found on retail sites would have missed out on a remarkable record that proved, once again, Ron Morelli’s NKVD uniformed eastern cousin has a rare knack for ferreting out fresh talent. NGLY’s entry was a seriously dirty take on House and Techno, replete with all the analogue filth one could wish for whilst letting his savvy for building floor-shaking tunage cut through the grime and hiss. It fit well into the Torrent Versions stable, and it says something about the label that it’s now beginning to look even more interesting, experimental and out there than it’s Parent-not-Parent.

His début on LIES proper comes courtesy of one of their occasional series of white labels and, as such, chances are that by the time you read this it’s going to be sold out everywhere, save for some Discogs gonk sitting on a dozen untouched copies somewhere. That’s a shame, in fact, because it’s a record that certainly deserves to be heard, not only by sad cases like me who obsessively stalk Vinyl Underground and Redeye, but by everybody.

Those of us who have played the Torrent Version record over and over are likely to be surprised by this one; it’s far more downbeat, introspective maybe. There’s no exploding jackhammer experimenta like H592S on this one. The overall tone is more subtle and musical (not that the Torrents record wasn’t musical,) and the feel is of an attempt at warping the concept of Deep House into something that’s actually meaningful rather than the bland excuse for posh EDM it so often is.

Service Cost HH2 is a beautifully restrained amble into deep mood where the tribally funk of the drums and the flashes of light in the higher registers lock into the groove before the percussion snaps into place. My first thoughts were that it put me in mind of label mate Gunnar Haslam, and there is certainly something of Haslam’s sleepy, loopy experimentalism to it, but by the time the echoey vocal sample and the rising, ever so trancey pads come into play the feel morphs into sunrise above a dirty south London warehouse circa ’91, once again proving the Acid House vibe is at often at its strongest when it doesn’t sound like Acid House.

Some Relationships also feels like a ghost from the early days of Acid. A hypnotically slow breakbeat and a flutey riff drift in and away before they simply vanish back into the aether. I have no idea what NGLY’s influences might be, but this reminds me of the legendary Meat Beat Manifesto in one of their quieter moments, like a take from Satyricon cut because it wasn’t politically earnest enough. It’s all trip with just enough hop to see it to the end. Pretty and ephemeral, it hints at an interesting possible direction. A shame there isn’t quite enough here to follow on.

Speechless Tape is another swerve, and probably the most downbeat thing here. It’s bordering not only on synthwave but older, electronics heavy Post-Punk from before House rose out of Chicago. The vocals are deceptive, thickening the otherwise fragile pads that hang suspended in a haze of reverb, the occasional high-hats serving as lights on a flair path.

I Don’t Have A Soul, one more contrast in an EP where contrast comes in gangs, is the most direct of the four tunes; a shadow of a melody and a skipping beat melting a skeletal form of Deep House from the ice, effortlessly proving it’s not the sounds that are important, but what you do with them. It’s amazing how often people forget that.

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