Review: Chemotex – Schrade Knives (The Trilogy Tapes)

Over the last year or two its been pretty difficult to think of another label that has turned out quite so much genuine A grade material as The Trilogy Tapes. Even this year, as their output seems to have rocketed into the territory where we fear ‘L.I.E.S fatigue’ may begin to set in for some people, there have been so many treasures that it remains all but impossible to say no. Here, at the halfway mark of 2014, there have been more memorable moments than I care to count – the astounding 71st Exchange Used To Be by Theo Parrish is still quite possibly the highlight of the last 12 months – and with records by Anthony Naples and Dario Zenker (hopefully) on their way in the near future, we’re going to have to shrug off any aches of exhaustion for a little while yet.

Chemotex is a new name for a well-known producer playing the game of guises that is so popular at the moment. I won’t say more than that other than his previous work and labels would suggest a natural enough fit for Will Bankhead’s growing and unruly stable of noise-niks. The fact is that whether the name is up front, or under a shroud, Bankhead has excelled in getting some classy sounds from his gang of disparate producers. He’s done it again here.

The concept of Industrial Techno is one that has little purchase with me. Often it’s used as a catch-all term for any body of music where the clanks outnumber the drops. It would be easy to dismiss explosive opener Schrade Knives as such, but it would be neither fair or accurate. Beneath the static bursts and brutalist percussive belts there is a deceptively subtle mover entirely in command. Chemotex is smart enough to know that six minutes of grinding noises often ends up sounding like six of grinding noises unless there is something else doing the heavy lifting, which is exactly what is achieved here through the constant evolution of the sounds and the way it ever so slightly mellows the vibe without taking of the acerbic edge.

Payphone Player is a straight up, dirty jacker that wouldn’t sound at all out-of-place with the Gene Hunt release I reviewed the other night. The trill of a ring tone a gallows rope that hangs through the entire track, the enormous thump of the kicks and the gratuitous wriggle of the hi-hats – this is a weaponized stomper that is going to be getting a lot of plays.

Although neither of the B-side tracks come up to quite the same standard of vicious scuzz-jacking that Payphone Player reaches, both delve further into the seam of experimental floor shakers that Schrade Knives first mined. 33140 is the heavier of the pair, rolling in on a breakbeat carved entirely out of sinew and induced neurosis, so rough it would take your fingerprints off if you rested your hand upon it. Early Death feels like a reprise of sorts of Schrade Knives but less sharp, more worn and toxic. The staccato chops thrash above the bulging bass pulses that drag everything else around it into its destructive orbit like a fat sonic singularity. But, like the other tracks, it marries the fierceness to a nuanced groove that provides buck and scuttle to the crowd of grunts and barks. Harsh but very, very fair. Modern face-pounders with the heart of a dancer.