Review: Boneless One – Pixelae Destructium (Computer Controlled Recordings)

The last record by Boneless One I got my hands on was last year’s untitled number on Tabernacle’s sub-label Ride The Gyroscope. For whatever reason it never clicked with me, which was a bit strange because, really, it’s acidy soaked stompiness should have been right up my street. Underlying it though was a certain smoothness which didn’t seem to sit comfortably with the more roguish elements. Hey ho, that’s life.

Those little worries have largely been assuaged on Pixelae Destructium, an EP which takes the previous releases rougher moments and gives them the space to really batter along in their own sense on misadventure. Part of the pleasure here lies in the way that the four tracks, dripping with 303s, rising on concrete beats, feel singular in their energy. There will be some who will rather there was more of an attempt to blend that with a more sophisticated, more modern, sound, but I think that is to miss the point.

Essentially this is the sort of old-school acid which borrows a dirty vibe from house, but uses techno to propel itself. These are tunes which use thick snarls and barks to create a feeling of hefty velocity even though the fastest of them barely hits 125 bpm, and the resulting heady brew feeds a breed of kaleidoscopic lunacy which is as hard as it is fun. And it is fun – specifically in the way it contains something of the fairground insanity of early non US acid, where those original influences were coming up against a far more unhinged approach and creating music which was every bit as serious but had a twinkle in its eye.

This is at the heart of Pixelae Destructium, a grimy, down in the dirt and back to basics mood which tempers its single-mindedness with a mad grin that comes from knowing just how fun and electrifying honest-to-God banging acid can actually be. Each of the tracks are cast in much the same image – harsh and heavy, wielding the acid like a battle axes and charging headlong into the dance floor fray, and yet they each do it with aplomb and charm.

Acid Chops and Hartz Einz are the most direct and old-school of the four – battering ram floor shakers designed to get the feet working without too much input from the brain. This particularly true with Acid Chops, a vast stomper of a tune where the 303s tangle in the sweaty air over kicks so dense they’ll warp space-time. Hartz Einz is half a heartbeat faster, but more diffuse in its effects, more spacious in its sound. It draws on the same shadowy meanness that Richie Hawtin tapped into with his Circuit Breaker and F.U.S.E projects from long ago, an angrier but enthralling take on acid house that understood exactly how exciting a genuinely malicious 303 could be when it was tripped out into a new world.

The other pair of tunes mess with the foundations a little bit more, adding in textures which accent other elements. Sonarr drops in a swirl of melody to the mix, playing call and response with the sliver box and allowing the groove to swing out into something less furious but allowing it a greater leeway to strut and prowl. Communication Crack extends this. It takes a little while to get going, the stabs of organ at first emphasising that fairground vibe I mentioned before it begins to fold in on itself and allow the scratchy, cheeky and soulful melody to take over with a feel that is part Detroit, part Chicago and part dirty abandoned factory rave on the outskirts of town. It’s gloriously messy, never wanting to bring itself together, and its loose, grubby funk pitches itself at the sense of fun which lies at the centre of the record. Old School acid nonsense for sure. Dressed to sweat, not to think. We could do with more records like this.