Review: Hermez – We Come To Rule (Titanic City)

I don’t know if there is something in the water over in Belfast, but it is a city which seems to be rapidly developing an interest in propagating a sound that owes a nod to the acid and techno of the early nineties whilst working it into a form perhaps more palatable to the modern dance floor. A few weeks ago we covered Mark Forshaw’s ‘Explorer’ EP for Computer Controlled music, a record rich with the vibe of classic British clubs towards the end of the golden age of acid and one that seemed like a real statement of intent for the new label and perhaps even a pointer to something going on in the city’s underground scene. Is this new record more evidence? Let’s see.

Whilst it would be easy to claim that ‘We Come To Rule’ by Hermez, the second release on another young Belfast based label, Titanic City, is a similar experiment in painting broad images of big wave British acid though a collage of emotions and atmospheres, I’m not sure that it would be very accurate. For a start, Hermez is less easy to pin down to a particular time and place, and while there are quite obvious references and influences, they are diffused through a mulsin weave of experimental energies that add a more contemporary sheen.

Having said that, there is an undeniably fun retro feel to the bump and thump of some of the tracks. Partly I suspect this is more in the way Hermez builds his acid lines, using the little silver box as a creature of melody and accent as well as a straight up bass machine. It is an approach that isn’t used often enough these days. What is quickly evident is that ‘We Come To Rule’ is a record of warmth and playfulness, and perhaps less bothered about how it interacts with the physical pain as it is with taking the listener on a psychedelic journey.

The beats themselves are mostly functional pulses and clacks that really serve to provide a bedrock to the deep washes of the synths. layered and all-encompassing, they subtly warm the heavy throb of the bass across the three original mixes. Erosive Soul, and Life On Eria, two peas in a pod, use these motifs to build a pair of quirky, slow strolling acidic amblers that hold off somewhere just below boiling point. Both have the ghost of classic US house in them, but also something of the individualistic wobble of IDM mixed up with the same sort of shuffling grooves that Willie Burns, say, has been creating over the last year. Dopey eyed and cheeky, rather than big room bangers, they both have a streak of gentle devilment to them.

The Nick Anthony remix of Oscar’s Dream, is less deep and wide, but almost as much fun. A chunky warehouse stepper, it rolls around on its fat old bass and some fiercely old school rhythms. Of all the tunes here it comes closest to the idea of classic Chicago, with a gloriously old-fashioned melody that drops in to get your hands up.

Best of the lot is We Come To Rule itself. Harder edged than the rest it takes something from Bambam and Armando in it’s driving bass, but kicks it into the future with its wonky, discordant synths and melancholy, chirping acidic lead. It’s perhaps less sure of itself than the other tracks, but that actually lends to its charms, as does the way it seems to hover in the aether between ravey house and a more cultured, chilled out feel of certain Balearic moods. It’s a fine ending to a record that might not burn with attitude but is replete, instead, with heart and laid back smiling grooves.

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