It's been a minute (or 5 months) since I posted on current dance 12's and that's because I've been listening to a shitload of non-current 12's. And when I have tried to review some recent releases, well, let's just say there's an essay on fourth world dance music forthcoming....
And speaking of the concept of the fourth world in music--the idea originated from Jon Hassell of pairing first world music technologies with third world musical ideas--the group that made me start writing this in the first place, Sordid Sound System, appear to indulge in it a decent bit as heard in the non-western wooden keyboards heard on "The Baron." Elsewhere their videos are paired with what appears to be stock video footage or "anthropological" tapes, like the slowed-down street band whose playing provides a rather ironic visual counterpart to the Suicide-meets-Harmonia sounds of "Dub-Cha-Cha." And this type of unfettered genre jumping is shared by their label Invisible, Inc. based in Glasgow and certain one to watch, with the synth-led kraut stylings of SPACEROCKS and the textured ambient of Jon Keliehor being albums to explore further.
But let's just say even if I had heard those songs or any other by them before today--many of which sound great played on top of one another as so similar is the vibe across songs--it was a return visit to Academy Records in Greenpoint that put me on fate's path to hear "Brave New World."
Now this may be a music journalist cliche and it may not, but I feel like whenever there a track or edit that isolates a monster bass line, Liquid Liquid's "Cavern" will almost always be invoked. That said, I would be full of it if I said the thought didn't cross my mind around the second or third time I listened to the above. But what caught me was how redundant the groove was and I mean that in the best sense. The idea behind musical minimalism--at least in my book--is that repetition provides a launchpad for transcendence and it's through listening to the same line of music for two or twenty minutes straight that can induce wonderful aural sensations as each pass reveals something new...or does it?
Whether the new elements are mixed low or a product of your mind doesn't really matter. What matters is that this is powerful, trance-indepbted music--just one of the 7-odd genre tags on Sordid Sound System's Discogs page, including my new fave of "Dungeon Synth." The track was playing as soon as I entered the store and for the first two minutes, it seemed like a rawer edit favored by the like of Mark E or Theo Parrish until the noisey yet rhythmic guitar and a keyboard line parallel to the base part entered the mix. From there we were off to the race as a more pronounced and unruly rhythm guitar line serves as the entrée to a twisted form of group chatter (like the kind you'd hear at the end of classic soul songs like this one...perhaps the best group chatter ever?) The whole thing builds and builds but never boils over as someone cuts the gas and the vigorous simmer quickly dissipated. The rest of the material on the Fear Eats the Soul EP doesn't really come close to the effect that "Brave New World" had on my as the group moved from live drums to tinny drum machines on the remaining track and lose much of the magic in the process. Lastly, gotta love a Fassbinder reference in dance music, especially one that is a favorite movie of his and that Vereker also borrowed for an EP name back in 2012.)
For as tight as things have been for me so far in 2017 with getting my freelance marketing and content strategy business off the ground, I've also been running into an insane amount of great deals on record and in particular twelves. When I returned to buying and collecting records again last summer, I made a promise to only buy records that I would be listening to in five years, which has helped in resisting the $16 singles that now dot the new shelves of my go-to record stores (Heaven Street, now Material World, what up!) But when, say, Rough Trade marks down the many 12's people don't buy or Heaven Street buys a collection from a DJ like, say, Ital, I suddenly have an assortment of ace 12's to choose from that range from one to ten dollars (and in some exceptional cases, fifteen.)
So I've been picking up an odd but fantastic assortment of dance twelves and chief amongst my finds is Sikora's Holzwurm EP on the legendary Klang Elektronik. On the A side is the industrial chugger "Tribalizer," but the main star of the show is the fact-paced and utterly bucolic "Praguish," a track that could have been on Border Community in their heydays if had some post-arpeggiations thrown in there. Rather, it's a song that mixes perfectly with the likes of Shake's "Levitate" or Drew Lustman's "Blueberry Fields," both tracks it mixes perfectly with. Introduced in a hurry by Sikora through a nimble, proto-mnml beat over which glides a lush bed of pads and an intoxicating music box-like melody. At the midpoint, the producer deftly adds in what best can be described as springing noises and chirps placed at key points in the drum sequence to amp up this sunrise anthem as it charges through the seven-minute finishing line.
Lastly, off of the Perlon label's third edition of their legendary Superlongevity series is this highlight from the producer STL's staggeringly consistent discography. His desire to keep a firm control over his music and gleefully predictable compositional sense often make me think of him as the European Omar-S, but I'm sure that analogy would crumble under closer inspection. Either way, if you've heard a wonderful STL track before than you knew what to expect: minimal, unobtrusive, and eminently smart drum programming, bittersweet melodies, and an adept usage of textures to create what is essentially world-class ambient techno (or just ambient? A question for another post indeed...
OK, that's it for now but will be back soon with some very exciting interviews and features.