It’s Friday night here in sun-baked Glasgow and not only am I sweating buckets, but I’m currently listening to the sound of a drill working its way through my sanity as we try to get some stuff fixed in the house. Glasgow doesn’t really do summer all that well – after temperatures broach the low twenties for a couple of days in a row the city begins to get a trifle anxious, as if the absence of thick, endless cloud has left us ever so slightly agoraphobic when faced with the infinity of unbroken blue sky.
I had planned on writing about something else tonight, one of a couple of tunes I had picked out over the last couple of weeks. But neither of them are what is needed. It’s not to say that they are bad tunes – both are excellent – but summer has its own way of choosing, especially in a city like Glasgow where most of the year is given over to a sort of perpetual autumnal vibe which I’ve always thought was one of the reasons that House and Techno are so heavily featured in the night life. In a city of rains there is a need for lively music. The whole of Northern Europe is like that, I think; it’s just a little bit more true of Glasgow than other places. But when, like over the last few days, the sun shines and the mercury rises, there is a need for something different.
I am still surprised by the fact that I ever bought JS-01. I have a love-hate relationship with Dub Techno (mostly hate, I’m afraid,) and with the exception of a few tunes here and there I never really got on board with it to any great extent. While I generally enjoy the work of Basic Channel, for example, and Maurizio, a lot of the stuff that came along after them seemed little more than faded facsimiles of the original blueprint. It often reminded me of the Shoegazing movement in the early nineties. So many bands attempting to get a bit of the My Bloody Valentine action but ending up putting out what almost amounted to anaemic cover versions of what MBV had already done. It certainly also doesn’t help that I find the original non Techno form to be fairly uninteresting and dry.
It probably helps that JS-01 is rather atypical, and although it hits up a number of the genres trademarks – the droning bass, the stretched tones – it never really feels in hock to the scene leaders. Where Dub (and I’m well aware I’m in a minority here) feels claustrophobic and overwhelmed by the way the ubiquitous bass monopolises the mood, JS-01 feels expansive and dreamlike. The bass is still one of the stronger elements, yes, but it provides energy and propulsion to the cloud of synths that rise and fall like a breeze at sundown. The drum track as well, richly House in its groove and bubbling with the glitches and blips of percussion that show the way ahead like cats eyes in the gathering dusk, draws you into a trance like state that has more in common with the melodic styling of early Aril Brikha than to any particular proponent of Dub-techno. It’s heritage is more Detroit than Germany.
Best of all, though, and just what it turns out I needed tonight, is that it is a tune to luxuriate in after the heat of a summer’s day in the city. It is cleansing; it washes away the psychic dust and purifies you after the toxic, useless noise of too many hours spent in banal chaos. Sitting now, listening to it on my decent headphones, I can forget about the drilling, about the countless little irritations and about the heat, and melt away, instead, into the murmur of a summer nights stillness and the cool at the end of the light.