In slightly late style, here's a round-up of the last couple of months’ most essential releases on wax, ranging from the willfully psychedelic bassbin techno of Berkane Sol’s Hizatron/Geiom plate to T++’s bubbling tech reduction of Monolake’s epic ‘Atlas’.
The Hizatron – Von Glooperstein
Geiom – Bubbles [Berkane Sol]
Geiom’s Berkane Sol label has been one of the most consistent operators in UK bass over the last couple of years, acting as a home for his own productions as well as those of his Nottingham contemporaries. This most recent release has seen the turn of Wigflex’s Hizatron, who turns in ‘Von Glooperstein’, a downright evil sounding slab of brooding, bass-driven minimal techno that builds ever-so-slowly until every element begins circling one another; a battle between bass and percussion that generates a gradually escalating whirlpool of psychedelic elements. You’re lost at two minutes, and spat out at its end.
On the flipside Geiom returns to dubstep tempo for his most intensely percussive workout yet – ‘Bubbles’ does exactly that, swelling and bursting with minimal dancefloor fire. There’s talk of the next Sol release being his incredible ‘Sugar Coated Lover’, a second collaboration with vocalist Marita. Yes please.
Untold – Gonna Work Out Fine EP
This should really have had its own post all to itself, but as it’s been a few weeks now since Jack Dunning dropped his latest mutant creation on the world it has merged itself into the entirety of this round up. Still, Gonna Work Out Fine is indisputably one of the year’s finest releases, and is likely to withstand any competition for the top place over the next month or so. Much as the early signs were there, in the stretch-and-snap dynamics of early Hemlock release ‘Discipline’ and the slithering minimalism of ‘Anaconda’, there is very little that could have paved the way for a track like ‘Stop What You’re Doing’, its jerky nature and bass-driven propulsion demanding that you do exactly that.
Even better though are some of the other tracks on here: ‘Don’t Know, Don’t Care’ welds a devastating stop-start grime hybrid to classic house piano licks, and ‘Palamino’s rising synth intro stretches on for what feels like an eternity, generating a sublime vertigo that sudden falls away when the snare driven riddim hits in full force. I reviewed the record in full for Sonic Router, but it really has to be heard to be believed – this is the bold new world for bass music in 2009, and its willful ignorance of anything as stilted as ‘genre’ is an inspiration to carry over into 2010.
Hyetal – Neon Speech/Gold Or Soul [Soul Motive]
Bristol producer Hyetal’s ‘Pixel Rainbow Sequence’ was a sleeper hit, akin to fellow residents Joker and Gemmy in its technicolour synth-led chaos. His new 12” for Soul Motive is a little more considered, two slices of melancholy, melody-led dubstep that hark back to the city’s trip-hop heritage – ‘Neon Speech’ is strangely delicate and moody despite the presence of thick subs. ‘Gold Or Soul’ is the standout though, a slow roller buoyed by thick swells of aquatic synth wash that seems to end all too soon.
Joy Orbison – J. Doe/BRKLN CLLN [Doldrums]
It’s a little unfortunate for Joy Orbison that ‘Hyph Mngo’ was so hyped, and so loved by everyone from Martin Clark and Mary Anne Hobbs to Sacha and Zane Lowe (one notable exception being Energy Flash author Simon Reynolds), as it sets him an almost insurmountable peak to reach with each subsequent release. Luckily enough this doesn’t seem to be a particular stress point for him, as the first 12” on his Doldrums label gathers two more of his productions that stand up well to their predecessors.
Even if neither gathers quite the same MDMA-enhanced serotonin mindfuck that the intro to ‘Hyph Mngo’ is capable of causing even now, both give some indication that he’s already developed a singular style, blending strongly house-influenced, complex drum patterns with thick, shimmering synths and dreamlike vocal stabs. ‘J. Doe’ follows that formula to a tee, building in miniscule increments with almost sickening restraint before a glorious resolution two-and-a-half minutes in. ‘BRKLN CLLN’ sees him on a funky flex, cyclical percussion reaching ever greater heights as the track continues to grow to ever-greater heights over its length.
Joy’s may be a relatively simplistic concoction, but when the results are this slick, there’s not a lot that can be said to deny his endorphin-focused pleasures.
Ghosts On Tape – Predator Mode (Roska Remix) [Wireblock]
Roska is fast becoming the funky-remixer du jour, recently reworking everyone from Untold and DVA to Four Tet and upcoming synth botherer Ghosts on Tape. The latter is one of Roska’s best remixes thus far, taking the original’s cheeky vocal sample and layering it above dark, grimey beats and an escalating techno infusion. Well worthy of investigation.
Gemmy – Johnny 5 EP [Planet Mu]
The title track of Gemmy’s new EP was the highlight of his mix for Mary Anne Hobbs’ Bristol: Rise Up Special, all frazzled SNES melodies and grinding low end. All four tracks on this release are easily its equal, shifting from delicate skank (‘Shanti Riddim’) to full-on, head-busting dubstep (‘Wata Down Sound’). Full review for Sonic Router here.
Monolake – Atlas (T++ Remix)
Torsten Profrock takes hold of Monolake’s huge techno-odyssey ‘Atlas’ and boils it down to the barest of elements in true T++ style, before layering it up with progressive, shifting percussion that slides back and forth as though sinking in quicksand. Profrock’s forte seems to be in taking the raw materials of other peoples’ music and filling every corner with some sort of sound – be it odd bubbling, scrapes and grinding or ever-present static wash – yet somehow maintaining its intrinsic groove and danceability, in spite of his work’s devastatingly minimalist nature.
Photo: 'Ridley Market' by Nico Hogg