I’ve got this stack of records I haven’t really got around to reviewing yet because it’s winter and I’m tired and in a mood. It’s a pretty big stack though, and looking at it is beginning to make me feel guilty. As a record junkie I keep buying more of them…and more, and more. There comes a point, usually when your knocking the damn things around every time you move your chair, or your chair is in fact a bunch of records, that you begin to wish you could have found a healthier obsession. Stamps would be good. They don’t take up much space or melt when you leave them near a radiator. Nice and quiet, stamps. Lovely things. Anyway, in a slight change to what I normally do I’m just going to sling through some of these and see what happens.
Albums first. I’ve laid off buying LPs a bit this year as I rarely give them the time the cost deserves, but I recently picked up Pangaea’s In Drum Play (Hessle Audio), and I’m glad I did because its pretty bloody good. I sometimes fear techno records from the gang who kicked across from dubstep and bass into techno because the techno sometimes feels a wee bit flat and by-the-numbers. Not that this is an issue here as Kevin McAuley digs deep into his bassy bag of tricks to furnish everything with a gleefully grubby sheen. While occasional tunes such as Rotor Soap are fine enough in a relatively conventional way, the album comes alive on the weaving experimentalism of DNA, More Is More To Burn’s oddball skank and the furious, constantly morphing, breakbeat sharpened brilliance of One By One. An excellent example of where modern British Electronica is going. Comes with a digi code as well, which is always, always welcome.
My second album purchase was Convextion’s 2845 (A.R.T.Less). Yeah, I know, even your mum was going on about it. Part of the hype was no doubt down to the fact that finding a copy was harder than winning the lottery. Eventually I got my dirty hands on one, which was great and all, but if you didn’t it looks like a wee repress is coming at the start of next month (if they aren’t already in the usual stores right now). Is it worth the trouble of landing a copy though? Well, yeah mostly. While it maybe doesn’t quite live up to the hype which emanated from all quarters, it’s a lovely slab of deep space techno which pushes its more drifting, cosmic tendencies into a slightly more muscular framework than you would perhaps expect and actually comes out sounding far less ethereal than some of Convextion’s stuff under his E.R.P alter ego. There are moments here and there (such as on Distant Transmission, for instance, or Saline Moon) where the influence of classic Detroit’s take on similar themes is as inescapable as the gravity of a neutron star, but that’s hardly a failing. Best album cover of the year too; if that isn’t a Cobra Mk3 from Elite I’m a Martian. Also comes with a (slightly more convoluted) DL code, and the digi is available from Bandcamp if that’s your laudable thing.
As for 12″s, there have been more than I would like to admit. A bunch of them are reissues of older electro stuff so we’ll just skip them for the time being and see what else there is. Zeta Reticula’s EP 5 got a buy largely because it’s on Billy Nasty’s brilliant Electrix label. Zeta Reticula is, of course, the more dub techno/electro-y alter ego of Slovenian DJ and producer Umek who, I find, usually elicits some sort of reaction from people. You either love his stuff or loathe it. This EP brings out a bit of both feelings in me. Side A is pretty good; a pair of pummelling electro tunes bordering on techno-bass, both of which howl out at the sort of velocities that’ll give you a nose bleed. The B side reverts to slower, dubby 4/4 tracks which are both weirdly clean sounding, lacking enough fogginess to cover up the fact that not very much is happening in a not very interesting way. But then, I’m not a dub fan so they might be brilliant. Worth it for the electro stuff, though. Puts me in mind of some of the stuff The Advent’s done for the same label.
Joy Orbison gets back together with his long-standing collaborator Boddika for another installment of their SunkLo series. SUNKLOFYV (SunkLo) is an interesting release, occasionally sounding as if it has simply been left to get on with inventing itself, it refracts several strands of electronica with a fine intensity. More Moan, for example, puts me in mind of a lighter, pleasingly off the wall, take on Ancient Methods trademarked morphic stomp – swapping out the heaving weightiness for a touch of humour and sunlight. My favourite here, though, is the opener, Severed Seven, which hits things up like a sentient AI tasked with remixing Beltram’s Energy Flash and doing so with the addition of much clattering noise, and emancipated 303s.
Last but absolutely not least is Dez Williams with Ever Decreasing Circles (Earwiggle). Williams immediately deviates from his usual electro tastes for four tracks of massively dirty, crumbing and scary techno replete with bowel softening bass and enough distortion to take all the skin off your fingers. Occasionally driving downwards towards the sort of place which makes you wish for something lighter, like Bathoray or Hellbastard, here and there he eases back, opening the tunes up and allowing the beats to suddenly ripple off in different directions. while it’s not his best release of the year, it’ll probably scare enough memories of what else he’s done out of your skull that it really doesn’t matter. Nice, in a not very nice way. You know what I mean.