Review: TMS – Fuck You, Pay Me/Slowmotion (Mora Music)

This is the second record from The Midlands based Mora Music to land on my mat in the last few months. The first one, A Lucid Dream by Nicuri, remains a quiet highlight of the year – a beautiful record that tripped into the depths but still hasn’t really had the reaction or praise I think it was due, especially Moments, a tune that invoked the shadowy spirit of Carl Craig in his early 90s pomp as well as giving a lesson in how depth and groove can and should work together for the benefit of the music. That review can be found here.

Leeds based (I think) TMS pushes beyond the reefs and into the true oceanic depths here with this début release. Although Fuck You, Pay Me may have the title of a slab of swaggering and vicious Techno, the tune itself opens in a deceptively dubby way but soon blossoms into a finely articulate journey of rhythm and frequency. Little touches weave through out the mix but its the big chords that hold the attention as they rattle the speakers alongside a groove that would be just as at home on a big room system. They also marshal the tune nicely, especially on the rare occasions it seems likely to become overly languid, adding a focus that moves the music from something slight and incidental into being a potent yet drifting builder.

It’s the B side, though, where TMS really hits out and gives us something special. Slowmotion (No Sleep Till) is the city night reflected in amber stained rainwater and rippled by the distant and uncaring traffic. The rattled opening builds imperceptibly, keeping the groove on a leash and at arm’s length. The claps that mark every fourth beat and the disconcerting swell of the pads serve to disguise the haunting and melancholic rise of the main riff that is both bleak and gorgeous. Momentum, though, is brought by the filtered, disembodied and indistinct vocal snippet that threads through the track, bringing with it a breath of humanity to the concrete midnight.

Bobby O’ Donnel’s remix of Slowmotion kicks the tune up a gear without losing sight of the adrenal slump vibe of the original. The beats are the hardest thing on the record, the rhythm paying homage to the aquatic peak time adventures of an era where one could expect nothing except the unexpected in a DJs set. It’s the sliver flare of a yawing 303 that makes the tune so special, though: hallucinatory and grandiose, like a spirit guide in a bandana and dirty dungarees. It captures the feel of time stopping at exactly the right moment – a snapshot of a party in the ruins of long-lost rave. Moody and nostalgic yet forward-looking and warming in the memory.

Whist there are interesting (but not always essential) things being done in Deep Techno these days, there is something to TMS’s work that suggests he is interested in more than following the Tin Man or Donato Dozzy’s of this world along their path. There is a bite and strut to the music that, although not always easily apparent, points to him being an artist as interested in the swagger of the groove as the swell of the synths. Good, because without one the other is just so much noise. Looking forward to see what he does next.