Review: Beau Wanzer – Beau Wanzer 12″ (Beau Wanzer)

Beau Wanzer is one of those artists who might just pop up in the place you’re least expecting it, screwing brains with variations of his trademark gutter funk under a number of names and across a slew of different labels. He’s probably best known, though for his releases on L.I.E.S and Russian Torrents, and his work as half of Mutant Beat Dance with Nation Records founder Traxx.

Recently he’s moved off into pastures of his own creation, kicking out a well-regarded début album of weird-stepping electro tinged techno that moved from jazzy, understated mood music to crunching noise with gleeful abandon. While there were more than just trace elements of the sound with which he’s made his name (it’s difficult to hide too many of those body music leanings) they seemed applied to a wider aural world that were ever so slightly mired by the briefness of many of the tracks. Regardless, it was an exciting burst of ideas that deserved more than the limited praise it seemed to get.

This EP, put out on what appears to be his own label, is maybe best described as a hybrid of the album’s sounds and those of his L.I.E.S/RTV days. It’s a dirty, angry record; unwelcoming but strangely appealing, it’s strands of loose energy hypnotic in their intensity even when they occasionally hit an off note in feeling. I’ll be honest, Never being a huge EBM fan I’ve often been at my happiest with Wanzer’s music when it’s been cracking away at straighter material and there is plenty here that does the job and then some, whether it’s the filthy breakbeat sleaze-a-thon of Beefhearts with its slam dancing, off-kilter grooves and charred bleeps, or the epic nightdrive of Seedless Grins, a paean of bad-assery which builds slowly in bleakness, flexing it’s muscles and scaring you with machine chirps and driving drums.

A-side closer Drew Is A Dog Eater, a skittish electro-ish number, revels in its dissonance, the porpoising, out of tune riff playing against itself across a more perfunctory set of beats. It’s never quite in the game, the drums never kicking it into liveliness and stuck with the brute discordance up top. Such ideas are fine, but here they descend too close to a self-indulgence which is rare for Wanzer, and are on the edge of beginning to grate as the tune winds to a finish. Beaches of Leeches is a great ending, though, spooling up some proper street funk that weaves some nasty magic. It’s a shame, though, that it’s only just getting properly dangerous when it comes to an end. It’ll have you searching in the sleeve to see whether the last couple of minutes have fallen off the wax.

A bit of a mixed bag, then, but not by much. Not as furiously inventive as the album but not too far off, and a release that serves as an important reminder that there is more to Chicago’s music than acid and jackers.

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