Ged – Dry River (Third Ear)
I’ve always veered away from Third Ear releases in the past for a mix of reasons which led me to believe they were possibly a little on the big roomy, Mixmag side of life for my exquisitely sculpted underground tastes (you know, 150BPM breakbeats and the sounds of panicking) but there was something in the snippets of Dry River which dragged me in regardless.
Ged is the alias of Resident Advisor scribbler Dan Petry, and as a first leap from producer of words to a producer of music, it’s got plenty going for it. At times it veers a little into the territory where electronic music collides with the sort of big, sweeping concept sound which used to guarantee a spot of harassment by Jools Holland on the telly. Opening track Permission is particularly slick with that vibe; the beats, orchestrated to within an inch of their lives, slap their percussion around as the vocal snares any lingering emotion which hasn’t been knocked silly by the marshalled fierceness. Not bad, but it often has you wondering when Bjork is going to show up for a bit of a squawk. Follow up, Disappear, is a blunter blow of relatively old school electro furnished with enough nous and flaring darkside touches to put it right out there as a proper slab of dancefloor nasty, while Garmonbozia whiles its time away with sleek memories of old school ambient breakbeat. Only the Vinyl edit of Len fails to get anything going, settling instead for an endless build up to nowhere in particular.
While it’s not quite what I was expecting (not that I really knew what to expect) it’s a nice enough record, particularly when it’s allowed a bit of respite from its own idea of what it’s trying to be. It achieves this nicely on Disappear, a genuine belter which works all the better for losing the weighty sonic pretence that is evident elsewhere. More like that, please, and we’ve got ourselves a deal.
Zennor/Andy Mac – Rosevale II (Deep Street)
More Bristol beats? It always looked like such a quiet place. The sort of town a man could walk down the street untroubled by thoughts of mutant funk and hissing high hats. Not any more, though. Which is incredibly lucky for us because it’s turned into a sort of electronica ground zero, a place to find proof in the idea that British music is often at its very strongest when found in smaller, independent local scenes.
Last time I caught Andy Mac and Pev’s Zennor project, they were furnishing Will Bankhead’s Trilogy Tapes with the brilliant Never In Doubt, a record which kicked out some of the finest, deep, cosmic house from the last couple of years. Here they dive downwards, retaining the deepness but draping it over a far more dubby frame.
Rosevale II is a slab of classic dub techno which rolls pretty much in the direction you would expect. It’s dub techno, you get what you pays for. But while I’ve never been the world’s number one dub fan, I’ll make an exception for this because while it wobbles itself down a well wobbled path, it does so with enough suggestion of something different happening underneath that it holds the attention. That ‘something’ is to be found in the crystalline sheen up top, where the synths hint at a sort of cinematic adventurism not usually evident in the genre. This upending of the usual formula holds a strong sense of mood, time and space which, in turn, feeds back into the more conventional shenanigans underneath, elevating them above standard expectations.
The B-side is devoted to an Andy Mac solo cut. It kicks the place open with the sort of heaving beats which steal all the oxygen from the room before starting a slow descent into the depths. While it cuts out all the dub present in Rovevalle II, it holds onto the same strange, dreamlike quality and angles it against the wind, using it to guide you along some frozen, seldom sailed currents until the slight and gentle groove slowlys rise to thaw everything out. Wistful and charmingly disarming. A quiet and unassuming little gem of a record by a pair of Bristol stalwarts.