Review: Leskin – Rawer South Side EP (Unrelated Records)

There is a current line of thinking when it comes to House and Techno that any music which embraces the particular pleasures of an analogue approach much be defined by not so much it’s musicality but how discordant, noisy and difficult it is. Certainly, there has been a shift over the course of the last year from raw as all hell House jams into territory that has more similarity to field recordings of train crashes than to anything that has jacked its way out of Chicago in the previous two decades. Partly, I suspect this is down less to any desire to break new ground than it does to simply and gleefully try to break old rules. And while the occasional EP of squealing noises can have certain palate cleansing properties, It’s probably not what you want for the main course.

Luckily here in Europe we are almost spoiled for choice for producers who marry the sleazy, gritty menace of the Cult of Analogue to an altogether more funky approach to sound. From France we have the likes of Coni and Anaxander, amongst others, who have been making good with this sort of aural promise for a while. And Italy is beginning to emerge with a similar taste for some well tasty treats, largely in part to the work of Neapolitan label Early Sounds Collective and their impressive roster of talent. That this EP is brought to us by Pellegrino S. Snichelotto AKA Leskin – founder of Early Sounds – via brand new French label Unrelated Records should therefore be no surprise.

The Rawer South Side EP is not named in vain. Throughout the record there is a strong vibe of the sort of second wave Chicago House music that was once very important to the underground – and still championed by discerning music lovers (like, err, me). But I don’t mean to suggest that Leskin has delivered a record of simple homage – there is much more to it than that. Vasistas which tumbles out of the starters gate is rich with memories of the likes of Gemini at his most rocking. In feel, it has the gloriously debauched roll of vintage Relief Records material, and there is a warped energy to it that puts me in mind of Green Velvet’s seminal I Want To Leave My Body. The tune itself, fuelled by the ricochet of toms and snares is a testament to simplicity and the power you get from knowing what you need to do the job. It’s a throbbing, wobbly builder that pulses with mischief and that sense of fun that seems to be lacking from so much of the scene at the moment. It’s the very fact that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously that makes it so dangerous.

Monkey Track 2 is less playful but deeper, with Leskin drawing on the Jazz and Funk influences of his younger years to great effect. Although the woozy synths would seem to suggest a kindredship with the ‘Dusty House’ of Florian Kupfer, say, it is an impression that doesn’t last long. Where Kupfer’s musical brand aims for cosmic exploration, Monkey Tracks 2 is down low – it’s a tune for the street corner on a drowsy summers day spent with friends, when the lights begin to wink into life under a slowly bruising sky. Propelled by some fine, funky 70’s bass it captures a brief moment of sleepy happiness in the here and now. Wondrously atmospheric.

The B-side is entirely given over to a remix of Monkey Tracks 2 by one El Pingon, who is really Greg Beato. Beato, being a poster boy of sorts for the current trend of explosively skewed Lo-Fi Acid and Techno does himself some real favours by going off in a completely unexpected direction and delivering not some hissing 4/4 madness but cavernous and wide open breakbeats with more than a nod to early jungle. It further skewers preconceptions by pushing towards Luke Vibert’s uniquely warped take on the genre. Its links to the source material remain in the heady cinematic feel rather than any particular sound. It’s an eye opener that reveals two artists pushing themselves beyond the expected on a strong début for the new label.

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