Reviews: Skee Mask – Junt (Ilian Tape) and The Faces Of Drums – Thanks 4 The Tracks You Lost Vol 1 (Mathematics)

Basically I’m trying to mix things up a wee bit just and play with formats a little bit, hence pairing a couple of smaller reviews together to try to get through some of the massive backlog of records I’ve got going on here just now. I’ve reached a point where I reckon it might be fun and probably sanity restoring to do the same shit in a different way. Well, maybe not entirely differently but lets see how it goes.

Skee Mask – Junt (Ilian Tape)

This second EP from an artist who is fast becoming a standout on a label that has quickly garnered much acclaim in the underground (and most of it deserved, it has to be said) is a continuation of a journey into the same sort of unsettling sonic worlds that made his last release, Serum, such a killer of a record. It might be a difficult one to get your head around at first, but that is mostly down to the amount of invention layered into it’s four tracks. Interestingly, it owes more to the sort of early 90’s ambient techno that partnered thick soundscapes with on-point beats than it does to anything coming out of the European techno scene nowadays.

Washes of sound dominate the music, punctured by detached percussion and heavy, broken kicks that drive up the velocity without it ever feeling harsh or fast – a rare trick and one that seems to be in danger of disappearing from today’s techno toolkit. By turn mournful and threatening – especially within Hover’s cold and impassive fury – it’s a record that is never content to merely let you listen to it, always seemingly happier when it’s ripping certainty out from under the listener. Top of the pile is Larus Canus; more housey in mood than the others, it propels itself on subtly tribal drums beneath the glittering star fall of a distant and cosmic melody. Pretty yet predatory. Moody modern techno that refuses to play the same game as everyone else.

The Faces Of Drums: Thanks 4 The Tracks U Lost Volume 1 (Mathematics Recordings)

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First up, I couldn’t find any clips to embed for this one that worked. If anyone knows where such a WordPress sympathetic thing might be found, drop me a line and I’ll fix it ASAP.

I’ve been boring everyone I know about this record for a couple of weeks, and now, dear readers, it’s your turn. Culled from 20-year-old DATs created by the unholy partnership of Steve Poindexter and Jamal Moss this is one the most brutal and out there records you’re likely to hear until volume 2 arrives in the near future. Three tracks of raw as hell purebred jacking music that absolutely refuses to take prisoners, Thanks 4 The Tracks…is an utter belter that is far more than a simple slice of musical history.

Winding itself up across the three tracks it rolls from the first tune’s stately, slow burning grooves into full on warehouse territory. Rough biting machine rhythms, twisting arpeggios and coils of razor-sharp percussion occasionally give way to the gentlest touches of melody and musical warmth that bear witness to a deep soulfulness that climbs above the distorted drums and bass, and gives the impression of two artists cutting out all the bullshit – not that you could ever accuse these two of any of that – and getting back to the sort of basics that remind you Chicago’s house heritage was about more than the house standards that fill so many compilation albums nowadays.

The third track here is just corking. Sounding like a Lil Louis track that’s on the hunt for revenge, it moves itself on a sea of fuzz and kicks so distorted they’re on the verge of crumbling into little chunks of frequency before the squashed organ riff descends like a dirty angel to drag the whole thing skyward.

Immense, banging and playful. Probably my favourite record of the year so far. I can’t wait for volume 2.

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