Cultivated Electronic’s boss Sync 24 launched a project a couple of years back which would see him working on collaborations with some of the stand out acts in modern electro. So far we’ve had releases featuring Morphology and Exaltics, both of which were exemplary ambassadors for a genre that still takes pleasure of digging further into the underground than you tend to find with the bulk of modern electronic music. The Exaltics record in particular was a scything reminder of everything that’s good in electro with nods to techno-bass and more classic forms of the sound, all wrapped up with Exaltics signature rugged sound work.
The third installment of this all too occasional series sees Sync 24 collaborating with Ed Upton, surely one of the real giants of the scene, and a producer who has been responsible for some stone cold classics over his long career, particularly as DMX Krew – a guise he’s been using for over 20 years now. And while trends have come and gone within electro over that time, DMX Krew has never sounded like anyone other than DMX Krew.
Sequencer is tough electro. As rugged as the Exaltics’ record was, but marbled with streaks of light and hard melody which captures something of the feel of original electro whilst remaining forward-looking and bang up to date. While this in itself is probably not too unusual, what’s refreshing is the way MMT 8 sidestep many of the current trends and focuses instead on offering up music that works on a brilliantly fundamental level. There are no heavy acidic ruminations, no twisted, crumbling soundscapes to steal the thunder away from the grooves. There is, instead, the sort of furious funk that has been missing from a lot of electro efforts over the last couple of years; robotic and organic in almost perfect balance.
It kicks off straight from the opener, Growler – a tune that dollops out the street smarts courtesy of a massive knuckle of bass reminiscent of Vintage Future’s classic Antimatter Premium Unleaded. A dark, claustrophobic prowler, it’s like the theme tune to a version of Knight Rider set in Mega City One. You might be forgiven for thinking it a difficult act to follow; that bass is so primal it’s hard to see past it. But MMT 8 doesn’t attempt to best it. Instead it retools, lightening the tone here and there, such as with Never Been To Bristol’s cheeky skank, or twisting away into Cosmic Warp’s twitch-stepping future dancehall where the acid squelch is matched by the glimmer of the synth stabs.
I sometimes feel a bit like I’m singing to a half empty room when I cover electro, and I know that even nowadays it’s a weirdly difficult sell. The truth is that the Sequencer EP is one of those records that throws everything else around it into sharp relief because it does something that shouldn’t be revolutionary or even merely different: It kicks out some banging jams where the focus is on what the music does to you, how it makes you feel, how it makes you move. Thank the little lord Funk that somebody gets it. You should get it too because you’ll regret it if you don’t.