The second record of the week is another one that hails from the nascent Detroit sludge scene care of a British label. Monday’s Speaker For The Dead by Shady P on Clan Destine Trax was a pretty good slab of noise, but perhaps a bit of a straight hitter that veered far closer to being ‘normal’ techno than you may have been given to expect following the write ups of the scene so far. Even so, there were enough scabby little bumps and lumps bulging out of the sound to convince us that it sprang from a musical mind that probably wasn’t going to be listing much in the way of sleek, big room techno as a major influence.
Godless Contemporary Meat Sacks of Virtue is a different proposition. Bleaker, murkier and even less likely to spark a party into paroxysms of hand waving and whooping, Meat Sacks shares a musical space with some of the more blurred and chaotic moments that occasionally spill out of labels like The Trilogy Tapes or Opal Tapes. What separates them is that it lacks something of the sense of wilful experimentation that is often a hallmark of those labels, or at least experimentation in the normal sense. What we have here is a collection of very tight grooves delivered in a warped and nightmarish way. They wobble and boil, stumble over themselves and generally make a musical nuisance with their manky, slo-mo approach. On the first few listens they’re difficult to get a handle on, but underneath the surface noise these tracks burn with a definite angry funk that catches you unaware. Once that happens, their great skanking arcs become unavoidable.
The two Shady P tracks immediately aim for different vibes from those on his Clan Destine release, really having only that EPs All Night Long in common. This pair of creeping, crawling no-fi work outs are molasses slow and black as midnight. Constantly ready to dissolve into nothingness they’re held together by the scrape of brutally effective percussion that latches onto the space between the freewheeling anarchy of the beats. Of the two, Puckerphobic raises its head into more conventional territory (sort of), rendering a vision of acid house so fundamentally evil and cold you can imagine it sitting in a darkened room watching the ‘Here’s Johnny!’ scene from The Shining over and over on a tiny television with messed up sound. It’s a corker, and one that slowly screws itself into your brain with a sleazy swagger.
The Friend and Adult Supervision’s Behind The Circle K (Useless) is a barren wasteland of samples and crunching drums that slowly builds itself to a level of brutality that should be at odds with the raw funk that drips through the gaps but isn’t. There have been plenty of tracks over the last couple of years, under various banners, that have attempted to redefine dance music as something altogether rawer and nastier. Circle K succeeds where they failed because it is a killer piece of madness that builds itself up from a dirty, foot-switching groove into a proper weapon of fouled up electronics and broken rhythms.
Whether this is a more accurate representation of sludge than the Clan Destine release I don’t know. I don’t really care, if I’m honest. Let’s leave labels and genres for those who are genuinely bothered about them. What I do know is that Godless Contemporary Meat Sacks of Virtue has that authentic feel of proper, gritty down-low street music that so much modern techno either lacks or deliberately avoids, and that in itself makes it more vital than most of the sounds currently kicking around. A dirty gem dug from the mire. Buy now before it’s gone.