Klankman – Klankman TH02 (Tar Hallow)
Where Klankman’s debut on the Bunker emphasised a particular strand of dirty acid techno, his follow up record on young Rotterdam imprint Tar Hallow is evidence of an exposure to wider musical vistas. This isn’t to suggest that Maarten Epskamp has reduced his use of the silver box by any noticeable amount; it’s still there, very much up front and central to his sound. The difference here is that it feels less like a blunt instrument. It also feels – mostly – better integrated with the rest of the tunes.
And that’s perhaps the important thing here, because the music feels even more alive to possibility than it did before. One of the interesting, perhaps even strange, facets about Dutch electronica is that amongst the countless and fairly derivative stabs of acid techno that have saturated our ears over the years, there remains a core of invention and discovery that continues to push out exciting music. This makes its presence felt here on several important occasions.
Whilst, as I said, the acid lines and the big beats remain in place, there is a looseness to the music that was not obvious on the previous record, a funkiness that is down to a greater emphasis on the 303 as a means for coaxing grooves to life rather than simply using it as a lead instrument. Beats feel less regimented, like on the compressed yet freewheeling Spookhuis, where the kicks might well be kept on a tight leash, but remain rampant in their wonderfully dyslexic punctuation of the grimy stabs and throbs of bass, providing a slanting foundation for the acid to unfurl. Draaikolk uses a similar tactic, but descends quickly into a more nightmarish world. Only on Boss, where things revert to more classically primitive acid techno formula, do the grooves stumble. It’s an OK track, when taken on its own merits, but its reliance on a buckling, albeit heavily distorted, Hardfloor-esque lead lends it a strangely archaic feel amongst the swing that marks out the rest of the EP.
Even on the caustic opener, Rashond, where the thickness of the acid lines almost chokes out the oxygen getting to the tune’s brain, and where the beats collide in an unkempt 4/4 shuffle, there is a deeply felt, rolling internal logic and madness that is closer to the spirit of some contemporary acid than the tired trance touched forms that were once ubiquitous. It’s closer, for sure, to the assault of The Chris Moss Acid record we looked at recently than Tin Man’s subtle meanderings, but it feels very modern all the same, utilising a sense of space (or, more accurately, the lack of it) to hound itself into a swirling storm.
In fact, Epskamp delivers a breathless and heavy addition to a growing canon of acid that isn’t entirely content to stick to the lessons of the past. The best acid records over the last few years have been those which are willing to play with the form, to push the envelope beyond simple attempts to ape yesterdays shapes. Obviously this is important, because as a genre acid needs to evolve beyond what was doing the business twenty years ago or it will simply fall into the same trap of nostalgia music that has done for so many sounds over the years. While the record isn’t perfect, occasionally using the acid to a little too bruising an effect, there is more than enough here to present proof that the little silver box can still devastate with fun and funk when it’s pushed into fresher shapes.