Review: DJ Spider/Grey People – Service Elevator (Public System Recordings)

DJ Spider/Grey People – Service Elevator (Public System Recordings)

New French/Australian label Public System Recordings kick off their vinyl only shenanigans courtesy of a split between New York’s master of stark electronic funk DJ Spider and Nashville producer Grey People, last seen on Atlanta’s CGI. As statements of intent go it’s a pretty strong one, with the two side of the record serving up some deep and crackling numbers that move between claustrophobic graveyard shift grooves, rolling jazz tinged funk and concentrated, Detroit-ish acid.

The work of DJ Spider is no doubt familiar to most of you, and yet he seems to be one of that select group of well-regarded secrets who continue to provide the genuine underground with authenticity and purpose. I don’t know why he isn’t bigger than he is; the volume – and the quality – of his output is nearly unmatched. His two tracks here are about as different as it’s possible to get. Both are inventive – especially Demon Seed that sounds as if it was recorded in a sinking, burning ship and prowls at the edge of a haunting psychological dreamland. Mind Fields erupts in a flare of jazzy drums and a slick, repeated synth motif that is punctured by shards of raw and spiky sound that lacerate the meanderings of the tune, the duality adding an anxious edge that refuses to allow you to settle too comfortably into the fat rhythms. It’s a precise and perfectly judged weapon that’s as understated as it is dangerous.

Grey People match up pretty well, especially on Deep Friday which equals the tautness of Spider’s brace and stalks a similar path to Demon Seed. It’s a more angular tune, the crumpled beat marching us forward and the chimes counting off the distance from the point of safety while vents of white noise sound like creatures hiding just out of eyesight. Too Much Relevance is one of the few nods to straighter dance floors on the record, and even then it’s a nod coming from a twisted head. In its wonky use of a 303 it’s reminiscent of some of Claude Young’s old Djax material, but the interplay between the burgeoning acid and the grumbling bass marks out a territory all of its own. Pitch it up for best effect, and use it to peak into some proper messy and nasty prime time chaos.

A good start from a new label, and one that happily suggests that there is still room in the underground for music that refuses to either play up to the memories of 20-year-old bangers, lighten the mood to the point of meaninglessness, or wander off down the well trod path of route one techno. Shadowy and fierce, experimental and funky, just as it should be. This we like.