Considering the ample space afforded to the Timedance and Mistry Muszil labels, it's time to turn out attention in earnest to Facta's and K-Lone Wisdom Teeth label. As we already discussed but bears worth repeating here, here's where out story has taken us so far:
Commenting on the label's first two years, Henson (Facta) notes that "the first few records were an attempt to put out as much of this crazy, new music that was coming out. There's a real energy to them for that reason, but they're also quite scattershot." And then, like many of the other artists and labels we've looked at so far, 2016 marked something of a break, Henson noting that there arose a mindset of "staunchly wanting to do your own thing" rather than simply emulate genres or chase trends. And both in his music and the label's output, Henson has perhaps grown more confident or more cognizant of what he wants to say as the label took a sharp left turn in 2016, releasing a three-track affair that featured three of the producers we've already discussed, including Alex Coulton, Simo Cell, and Chevel. Spanning electro, grime-inflected house, and propulsive ambient, its stylistic variance was a harbinger of what was to come in 2017 with Wisdom Teeth releasing three very distinct and extremely accomplished EPs. Commenting on how the label has evolved, Henson notes, "I think there's more of our voice in the last few records, mainly because we've had the confidence to put out records that other people might not have."
The first release of their banner year came in the form of another three-track compilation On Line Vol. 1 that marked a major departure from their early nuum-influenced releases into something far more heterodox and clearly inspired by genres and ideas existing well outside of the country's electronic music tradition. It's not for nothing that the comp included German ethnographic explorer Don't DJ whose mining of Javanese and Balinese instrumentation and notation for dance floors rides a fine line between Fourth World-informed 'imagined communities' and opportunistic exoticism. Still, the fact that he was the first artist to appear on Wisdom Teeth who operates unmistakably outside of any perceived UK continuum speaks to the ethos behind both the label itself and many of the producers we've spoken with and discussed so far, encapsulated by the following comment courtesy of Facta: "The idea behind Wisdom Teeth has always been to put out records that balance weirdness with functionality and genuine intuitive appeal. We love experimental, confusing music, but we also love earworms, hooks, rhythms." And its this creative engine, synthesizing UK musical traditions with ideas and genres that fall outside of Reynolds' stringent nuum criterion, that really sums up the brilliance of "Woniso."
Evoking a distinctively synthetic exotica within the song's opening notes, looped record crackle and the muted sound of crashing waves lays bare the natural and plastic aesthetic that comes roaring into full-focus as soon as the machine-triggered, rhythmic-melodic strata of mallets begin assembling themselves at a brisk pace. Unlike Don't DJ's muddying of the acoustic and synthetic, the 'authentic' and fabricated in his sound design, K-Lone's eight-minute excursion more readily calls to mind MIDI-enhanced composers like Daniel Lentz--whose "Is It Love?" plays like the concert hall version of "Woniso," or vice versa--and David van Tiegham as much as it does Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Where those composers looked to non-western tuning, notational, and rhythmic models and adapted them for a principally American and European audience, K-Lone makes no pretension about the homegrown nature of "Woniso." Its loon-like topline that emerges once the incredibly intricate bed of mallets--which sound like an amalgam of muted vibrophones and a xylo-marimba hybrid--almost feels like a nod to that legendary piece of late 80s dancefloor exoticism, the "Balearic displacement" of the Manchester-bred 808 State's "Sueño Latino"-sampling "Pacific State." Just as that track typified the jovial nature of the UK's Second Summer of Love before things became far dourer and, well, British with the rise of Bleep techno and the breakbeat-enhanced rave-ups that would become known as hardcore, the yearning birdsong that floats effortlessly over the frenetic rhythm-melodic meshwork displaces any type of obsession over the desire for the new that has long propelled the development of UK dance music, for better and worse. That the track could have come out of the studio of a mid-80s downtown NYC electronic music composer as much as it could be transposed over a jacking rhythm to appease today's escapist club culture does not, in my opinion, embody the type of joyless "retromania" that Simon Reynolds has been moaning about all decade. Rather, its appearance on a compilation that features an ethno-drone dance track from Don't DJ and Simo Cell's crystalline rhythmic ambient within a scene deeply inspired by the innovative days of dubstep (2000-2008) and the genre nomadic years that followed in the form of the post-dubstep period (2009-2012) is emblematic of the type of restless sonic exploration and intra-genre hybridization that seems to animate so many of the producers we've spoken with and discussed so far. Just give a listen to one of K-Lone or Facta's mixes to get a sense of the type of extra-UK interests that are playing as much of a role in inspiring so many of the thrilling sonic innovations currently taking place as the UK dance music tradition. By the time the piece enters its final third, a double bell hit serving a similar propulsive function as a kick drum would, the birdsong receding into the night air as a marimba roll signals the piece's conclusion. It's a stunning, transportive piece of music that embodies the post-genre, non-linear development animating the most exciting dance music current emanating from the UK and beyond.