Review – Inhalants: Inhalants EP (L.I.E.S)

After a relatively low-key start to the year Long Island Electrical Systems are beginning to ramp up their release schedule to match last years hyperactive levels. In the last few weeks alone we have seen releases by NGLY, Person Of Interest (both following on from their superb Russian Torrent Version 12″s), Daywalker+CF and a one-sided black label from German trio Transformation, and we haven’t reached the half way stage for 2014 yet.

It’s the sort of schedule that the old-time major labels would have been hard pushed to match, and there have been the inevitable comments and criticisms that maybe L.I.E.S quality control isn’t always as hot as it could be. For me there have certainly been a couple of records that didn’t come up to scratch. Gunnar Haslam’s Port Maillot 12″ from earlier in the year, for example, failed to scale the same heights as his exceptional Mimesiak album: It seemed a strangely listless and unfocussed effort in comparison – treading water where it should have been barreling forward. But given Ron Morelli’s penchant for exposing an almost unbroken stream of fresh talent to the world, the occasional let down almost goes with the territory, and the fact remains that there are very few labels putting their money where their mouth is like L.I.E.S does on an almost weekly basis.

Inhalants is a new name for a couple of producers who should be familiar to most people with an interest in modern Techno. Jahiliyya Fields is an old L.I.E.S salt having already seen a 12″ and album on the label, even if recent sighting have been fairly limited. Patricia makes his debut here, though, and I’m sure regular readers have already picked up on my love for his Body Issues album which appeared on Opal Tapes last year, and was one of my highlights of 2013.

Inhalants seems a strangely conventional opener considering the history of both producers, the characteristic L.I.E.S wonkiness not withstanding. Essentially a functional slab of four to the floor street-Techno, thick with honks and gilded with shimmering squawks, it’s a lot of fun and considerably less abstract and obtuse than it probably has any right to be given its providence, and what it lacks in polish it makes up for with the crustiness of high summer spent in an urban sweat-box.

No Hats, in direct comparison, is a darker take on the same themes. The speed is cut ever so slightly, the bleeps and whirs given centre stage beside the clank of the heavily metallic percussion. Somewhere in the distance a synth battles to cut through the slight muddiness of the bass, which is a little too thick for its own good, swamping a little too much of the lower and mid freqs for my taste. On the whole No Hats seems a little uncertain of itself – too slow to really cut loose and too fast to blossom into a crazed collage of sound and texture. It’s real power lies in the loose funkiness of the drums and perc, though: pitch it up and you might have a proper stomper on your hands.

There Are Cops Around is much more assured. A rolling proto-groove, controlled and pitch-black, that stealthily builds until it rises out of the murk of bleeps and squeals on the back of rubber-ball kicks and toms. At times indistinct, the edges blurred, it still delivers a pulsing promise of beautifully frayed dancefloor mayhem.