We’re on the precipice of a new decade and we’ve fallen into archetypal tropes where Techno, House et al is currently being watered-down to revisionist versions of itself in a digital realm. Distilled from the eccentricities of their ancestral roots, we’re swimming in the languid miasma of ubiquity entrenched in formulaic chasms. Feedback loops, droning along in consistent noise, saturate dance floors in monotonous white noise, while DJ faces smile at you from the incandescent glow of a handheld LCD screen.
We’re living in a virtual reality, a dance floor locked in an eternal struggle to free itself from the banality of the outside world, carried on the invisible wings of 4G bandwidth. Our anecdote? A complete hedonistic escape from the trivialities of everyday life. It lies beyond a glass door at an end of Skippergta and it’s called Filter Musikk.
Unencumbered by overzealous hype and free from the tyrannical insistence of social media, it’s here where music lives on in objective terms with the listener. Grooves cut into plastic discs, sheathed in cardboard cloaks that relay only the most necessary vignettes of information, line shelves and boxes; impossible hierarchies immediately subverted in the mere flick of a finger.
Carefully curated by proprietor and Oslo DJ icon, Roland Lifjell, the selections that grace the hallowed shelves, stand out above the din with glorious indifference in a format that time forgot. Ironically it’s in these arcane discs that we’ve found the only way forward into the next decade, the last true avant garde in a scene slowly being consumed by conservative trends being dictated by big business and uninformed social opinions determined by mystical algorithms.
This is where we’ll make our stand in our perpetual drive to explore new musical worlds and unearth future classics overlooked in their time, but still striving to soundtrack an improbable future. Stepping into the next decade, these are the records and this is the place that lies beyond the schism of the mundane and we’ll step boldly beyond its threshold yet again in the pursuit of the new, enticing and the innovative. This is the Cut with Filter Musikk.
Adlas – Currents (Answer Code Request / ACR505) – 12″
It appears like a forgotten memory from the beginning of the year, when 2019 was still in its infancy. Seems like it was only yesterday we were singing Adlas’ praises on his debut for Answer Code Request. The mysterious artist had immediately caught our attention, pursuing a distinctive brand of Techno, freed from the shackles of the consistent beat of a DJ tool. We thought it could have been a mere isolated event, a fleeting artistic flourish from some established artist, operating under a pseudonym. That was March however and this month Adlas has solidified his sound in 2019 with a sophomore effort “Currents,” confirming his allegiances to Answer Code Request in the process.
Adlas’ music continues to thrive in a stark minimalist landscape, with rhythms emboldened by bass carving deep trenches through incandescent atmospheres, sparkling with the erratic chirps and clattering of biomechanical sonic insects hovering at the fringes of the otherworldly soundscape. Adlas finds some elusive bridge between striking experimentalism and dance floor functionality on this record. Using the unwavering foundations of beat-driven dance music, Adlas saves an experimental component for the accompanying textures, with raspy metallic creations and irreverent rhythmic constructions occupying the fringes of his music.
It’s in the skipping rhythmic arrangements that Adlas’ music immediately appeals, using kick and snare arrangements lifted from bass-inclined genres and transposing it to Techno. On the particularly tumultuous “Emergence,” piercing kick drums jut out from the center of the track with an onerous corporeal pursuit as noisy atmospheres clamour to the progression of the track.
But it’s very much a record of two sides, with the A-side honing that stark, bass-infused minimalism to a fine degree on the dance floor, while the B-side retreats into evocative melodies. At its most extreme the record touches on the fringes of Trance with “Spherical Wave” which is both at odds with the rest of the record, trapped in some unflinching 4-4 rhythm and yet also offers some dynamism as the artist ventures slightly from the sound he’s covered over most of his first two records.
It leaves a tantalising musical allure that will undoubtedly follow the artist into his next record, and the next decade.
Pretty Sneaky – 5 (Pretty Sneaky) 12″
Synthesised “found sounds“ from parallel dimensions transmitted on the frequencies of Dub rhythms and records that seem to want to draw no line of separation between genres, Pretty Sneaky is a white label that has been intriguing since it first emerged in 2017. We thought the mysterious first record was an elusive one-off, never to be repeated, but somehow the label is enjoying it’s fifth release and the third release of this year.
With only a quirky stamp signifying its alliances a Pretty Sneaky record holds absolutely no information about its origins, but the dub-infused Techno that adorns each record hints at the UK. Pretty Sneaky 5 pursues a similar sonic aesthetic set forth since the first record suggesting a single artist or group behind the stark minimalist polyrhythmic constructions.
Percussive rhythms come together like Steve Reich’s clapping music, abstract and aloof, but congregating around the hefty sub-bass undulations that anchor the record in the realm of dub music. Only the electronic squeaks of abstract atmospheres of the A-side and the impulsive conjurings from some counterfeit electronic organ on the B-side, break the monotony of a repetitive loop that dominates both sides.
It’s an unpretentious record that asks nothing more than to be played through an almighty sound system.
Lost Trax – Surface Treated (Delsin / 139dsr)
It was like Lost Trax was created to be on Delsin. The anonymous artist/artists behind the Lost Trax name have been putting out records on the likes of Shipwrec and Tabernacle records for a while, but it’s particularly on Delsin where they seem to have found some congruity between their sound and the sound of the label, like they’ve always been destined to be on there.
Lost Trax’ music is built on those Dutch DIY traditions that took root in labels like Bunker and through artists like Legowelt, and while the records for Shipwrec and Frustrated Funk have upheld those traditions, their records for Delsin seeks to contemporize these traditions for the next generation.
Surface Treated finds Lost Trax funnel early Electro and Techno into the deepest recesses of club music. Tracing a trajectory to the dance floor between submerged, rolling basslines and ethereal melodies, Lost Trax expose a visceral subtext in their music on this release. It’s only ever on “Still”, the ultimate track on the EP that Lost Trax relay some of that classic Electro that dominates the their early releases, but for the most part they favour a softer edge in their music, which is particularly effective on opener “De Laye” and the striking “Interstate”.
There’s a progressive nature to both these tracks with an appealing melodic component, which on “Interstate” travels along some of the prettiest harmonies we’ve heard on a record of this nature for some time. Travelling on a deep, yet effervescent bass-line a simple lead line bounces between wispy pads, congregating around a deceiving, up-beat pulse. It marks a highlight for a record that is its own zenith in an already outstanding discography.
Nick Klein – Jesus Take The Wheel (Viewlexx) – 12″
Nick Klein is always “hoping to conjure an aural space of sanctuary and escapism” in his music, with a sanctuary embraced in the warm bowels of a dystopian machine-made romance. The American artist had arrived onto the scene through America’s ever-intriguing cassette scene, but by the time he arrived on the vinyl format through Unknown Precepts with “Failed Devotee” his music evolved slightly from the DIY culture that cassette culture has always inspired.
Releases for L.I.E.S and BANK followed as Klein’s music found the darker corners of dance floors around the world, contorting with the salacious desires of machine-made beat music. It’s no surprise that a label like Viewlexx beckoned and that Nick Klein answered the call, but on this occasion some compromise seems to have had to occur as Nick Klein moved into more focussed club music territory.
Stripping his sound back from the bolder synthwave and 80’s EBM traditions that dominated his earlier work, Nick Klein appears to try to accommodate an elusive dance floor on “Jesus Take the Wheel.” Repetitive beat phrases coaxed from distorting machines develop very little throughout the four tracks on the record with perfunctory design underpinning all these tracks.
Klein’s darker textures, and noise-y production will find favour with the more provocative corners of club music, and the slow tempos at which these tracks march through the record is charged with seductive rhythmic designs. It’s only the last track, that he breaks with the rest of the record and exposes some of those cassette DIY roots, as distorting guitars and saturated synthetic atmospheres converge on “Can’t Be A Candle”; ambient music as relayed from dystopian vision of the future.
Various – Club People Vol.1 (Anopolis) 12″
Somebody recently said that Athens will be the new Berlin, and while this kind of postulation usually has us rolling our eyes– just leave Athens to be Athens, why do we need another Berlin – there is certainly some relationship between social conditions and music. It’s usually under some kind of duress that societies are at their most creative.
After the financial fallout of a crippling debt crisis, expounded by a humanitarian crisis that the rest of Europe simply lumped on the shoulders of the poor country, Athens has seen better days, to say the least. In the midst of this, a burgeoning Techno scene had begun to flourish as the genre reached the incredibly popular heights. Let’s just get this straight however, Greece had always had an electronic music scene, but more recently an underground component to the mainstream has come to the fore allowing room for a new label like Anopolis to come into existence.
On the second release from the label, Anopolis introduces four new artists, each proffering a different interpretation of club music in one versatile compilation. Foukodian Rhythms, lakovos, Dim DJ and Drum Machine plot a course through the vast expanse of club music with elements of breakbeat, acid, House and Techno converging on the fringes of lo-fi techniques.
At times, like the 4-minute drop on Foukodian Rhythms’ “Big Wednesday,” the tracks are in need of some refinement, but it’s this youthful exuberance prevalent throughout, that holds a finger up to the uber-produced establishment currently saturating European clubs. At its most effective Grecian “old guard” Dim DJ, brings the necessary experience and practised skills to the compilation with the entrancing psychedelia of “Acid-O-Rama” while maintaining that DIY machine music aesthetic.
On the other end of the spectrum, lakovos offers a brooding, stomping Techno cut that could be quite at home in some vacuous underground concrete liar, which alongside the other tracks cover the vast spectrum of Techno music on this release and a fine representation of electronic club music coming out of Greece at the moment.