Reviews: Shawlands Arcade – RADZod1 (Rubadub); Sparky – Signals (Numbers)

We’ve been having a wee bit of home town lovin’ around here over the last few weeks, and dipping into some of manky auld Glasgow’s house and techno history. Before we delve back in to the past, though, we’ve a pair of releases that drag us right up to the city’s here and now:

Shawlands Arcade – RADZod1 (Rubadub)

Rubadub’s own in-house imprint has been very much a case of quality over quantity since its arrival back in the spring of 2013, with only a slender three releases to its name. Luckily, though, each of those records has worked its own particular sort of magic, and brought attention back to the breadth and depth of talent kicking around in the underground just now. From Anthony Naples’ career best, hand-in-the-air house shenanigans, to Frak’s wobbly analogue grunts, and on to Sparky’s Detroit-ism flecked work-outs, they’ve each managed to convey some mark of shared electronic ideals whilst noticeably remaining very different from each other.

Shawland Arcade fits right into this with the two tracker of Zod1. Pitching itself somewhere between a slightly knackered sonic world of worn electronica and the thick grooves of a more clued-up, clubbed-up breed of techno, the 12″ moves itself between the two extremes without missing a beat, mashing up differing moods and vibes into a spiky whole that offers glimpses of IDM, soundtracks and lost Saturday nights before year-zeroing the lot with the loose limbed funk of the modern underground. Diddies hits straight out with a tight, tribal tinged groove that grows increasingly hypnotic before slowly wiring itself into the warped energy of scything high hats and a shimmering, descending riff slowly collapsing in on itself.

The Bro-House Anthem redacts Diddies psychedelic tendencies in favour of bubbling acid that goes straight for the jugular. It carries the same low slung, darkened energy as its predecessor, and shifts itself with a similar focus, but is far lower down, keeping its feet in the gutter instead of its head in the clouds. It also manages to sound like the most Glasgow thing I’ve heard in a while; a distillation of all those nights of wonky street level acid and techno the city seems to have taken to its heart. It couldn’t be any more Clydeside unless it was busking behind a tap dancing jakey. Another class release on a label that has its ears working over time.

Sparky – Signals (Numbers)

Dave Clark’s musical history is entwined with that of the city’s techno heritage; all but pre-dating it, in fact, with his work as half of the early nineties duo State Of Flux. Since then he’s worked under a variety of guises: Luma, The Truffle Club, part of the Optimo (Espacio) production and remixer team up with JD Twitch, and recently with the Birthday Party and Scratch Acid channelling rock outfit Big Ned. His recorded work as Sparky, though, has remained much less frequent since its début with 1997’s As You Like It EP. Recently long time fans Numbers seem to have managed to get things going again.

Signals is something of a move back to more classically sounding electro and techno, and also something of an eye opener. The lead track is a slow grooving, electro tinged swinger; bittersweet and decidedly melancholy, it has the feel of a companion piece to Fatima’s classic What’s a Girl To Do, but one that is looser, less locked into a specific time and place, and more willing to explore shifting moods and colours through its propelling bass and subtle, jacking beats. Complex yet fragile, it gradually builds through an atmospheric mist of frills and touches until it reaches a cold, clear and almost brittle high.

Flipside Tigress is a harder stomper that swaps the motifs for noise and clatter, and rockier leanings. Essentially a far more punk take on the genre, it strips out any excess of emotional complexity, rendering down to a lean banger with a wide grin that never allows itself to get locked into the pretend moodiness that so many modern thumpers wear like a uniform. It’s just about the perfect compliment to Signal’s cinematic flare; A stoater of prime time techno to get the feet working.