Sprawl – Time Tunnel (Art-Aud)
Andrea Benedetti’s Plasmek label was one of the finest underground imprints of the late 90’s, furnishing us with some truly excellent electro from both his home city of Rome and further afield. His own work, under the Sprawl, alias seems to have vanished at the start of the millenium, so the sudden spurt of interest in the genre seems an excellent time for this return on Art-Aud, who were responsible for the brilliant Secret Rave Eps.
Anyone worrying about that long, long gap between Sprawl releases can rest easy; Time Tunnel is a pretty special record. At first listen the stark breaks, and regimented samples feel profoundly old school as they go about their business. But that’s deceptive. What we have here are some cracking electro tunes; fiery, fierce, and utterly disinterested in playing the modern genre game. There are nods to classic techno-bass, but beyond that they’re happy to carve out their own singular vision of stripped down, storming electro and techno. Contact slaps out a wobbling slice of bruised hip hop replete with anxiety inducing sci-fi samples and cold as hell beats, while Electrome ramps up both the velocity and icy fear with a malicious shot of acidic tinged electro, doubly served with an expert remix courtesy of D’Arcangelo, who takes it to the edge and laughs into the void. It’s such a strong EP that the best track isn’t even electro – it’s the precise, slamming, techno jacker of Time, a tune so sure of its own ability to do the job it’s got rid of everything but the most necessary elements and rolls on through a mist formed from its own sweat. Dark, hard electro that’s all about the funk. Welcome back Sprawl, welcome back.
Go Dam – Alternate Dimensions EP (Braindance Records)
I’ll have to admit to knowing virtually nothing about Go Dam except that he hails from South Korea and has knocked it out the box on this first release on what might be his own label. What’s impressive here is that he’s hit the ground with a record which draws on a whole bunch of influences without becoming beholden to any of them. IDM, electro, and Detroit techno all add colour to the three tunes, but none of them drink too deeply at any one well. The result is an EP which sounds like future mutant disco written by strange, dancing, alien weirdoes. And that’s a good thing.
While the three tracks utilise electro for their base, their skeletons, the rest of the touches roam wider. Alternate Dimensions is the darkest of the three, and the most directly tied to the genre. But even then it rolls around, latching on little bits and pieces until it becomes a sort of breakbeat powered slice of cosmic funk. A similar feel is approached on Stone Age Internet, but it’s tempered by a deep wistfulness, and loosened up by the laidback nature of its groove before eventually bringing everything together into an internalized trip which drips with Detroit-esque strings and little sonic couplets of real warmth.
Dawn By The Fire is even more alive, dipping properly into a sort of early 80s electro-funk sound while rebooting it for tomorrows parties. It’s also the tune which comes closest to capturing the essence of what made early IDM such an exciting proposition before it became a lame excuse for jettisoning the grooves. While the synths and the beats marshal the tune with a proper sense of getting shit done, everything else coalesces around them in an endless wash of beauty. While good débuts are always exciting, this one is particularly impressive. God Damn, Go Dam is good.