We’re stuck in some immoveable entropy between nostalgia and progression, where old archetypes are establishing new sonic aesthetics like a Duchampian pissoir stuck on the flush cycle. Fleeting relationships with inconsequential objects from an unfamiliar past are being revised within the sanctimonious ideology of the present and re-evaluated in extraordinary hyperbole. Remoteness is a currency and value is determined by our collective ignorance. We’re placing impossible significance on the effects of a rose-tinted view into the past.
Tawdry cliché is informing the future in some kitsch appreciation for the forgotten music of our past. There was a reason they were left to their temporal decay, but time had buried rationale, and we’ve unearthed remains in impetuous desires to find hidden treasures amongst bare bones. And where we’ve found none, we’ve simply invented new ones in our pursuit of finding something interesting in an increasingly monotonous landscape.
Nostalgia is informing the future, using perfunctory tropes garnered in a revisionist culture in the pursuit of something new, while leaving a yawning trench of ubiquity in the middle called the present. The classics are entrenched, and we are on a fool’s errand to improve on them, so were dulling expressive intricacies to an innocuous drone echoing from the ditsantp ast. Hindsight will be 2020, or so the popular joke goes, sacrificing foresight for an accessibility locked in some imagined collective memory.
There is only regret in the confines of the past, and our only escape is a glass door at the edge of Skippergata. It’s one of the last vestiges of a forgotten tradition of defining the future and it’s here that we will stake the last claim for a progressive society. This is the cut with Filter Musikk.
Trans- 4M – Arrival / Amma (Safe Trip) 12″
As we said, the classics are entrenched, so why bother trying to improve on what has been done. What Young Marco’s Safe Trip has been doing with its contributions to record annals is making these classics accessible to a whole new audience that have been thwarted by record prospectors on Discogs.
Trans 4M’s genre defining LP “Sublunar Oracles” would have been lost to niche record collections if it hadn’t been for Safe Trip unearthing the classic for us earlier this year, but that’s not all that Young Marco and co unearthed in their excavation of the Belgium duo’s back-catalogue. Two new pieces from the LP have surfaced in what the label has claimed were previously unreleased remixes from that same era, but could also just be a clever bit of marketing.
The dusty tape hiss that accompany the two remixes could prove pivotal in your own conclusions, but what’s hard to ignore is that they improve little on the original pieces; They are little more than shortened radio-friendly edits of the forebears.
The remixers take the axe to “Arrival” and “Amma,” and in doing so, remove all the drama from the tracks in an effort to accomodate the impatient DJ. With a kick drum on steroids, “Arrival” exchanges narrative for immediacy, getting that awkward introduction out of the way for the crux of the track, while retaining that inherent beauty in the melody of the original machines.
“Amma’s” foreshortened nature works a little to its advantage and where it was an album track in the past it now would make the perfect introduction to a DJ set. These remixes are catering to the DJ who doesn’t want to bring out the entire LP and needs something that will hold up against other modern tracks.
Jeremiah R. – Tales From The Dark Reef (Distant Wave) 12″
Deep grooves, languid keys, soundscapes projected from alien habitations and synthesisers chirping in friendly banter across a void, Jeremiah R. has created his own intricate little world contained within the grooves on this mini-album for Distant Wave.
There’s an exquisite attention to detail throughout this record as elements combine across densely orchestrated pieces, composed from an extensive musical palette. FM synthesises and toms plucked out of the eighties sit alongside deep, brooding Moog bass-lines and 909 kicks, while irreverent modular synthesisers plot a squirmy path through intelligent machines.
Between the rolling rhythm sections, the affable melodies and the alien soundscapes, Jeremiah R. has put together a record that engages on every level. There’s a focussed rhythmic pursuit that will engage with the dancer, especially on a track like “Axolotl’s Journey” while a track like “Octopus” offers some soothing melodic relief and “Subsequent Mutations” unlocks something for the more adventurous listener without losing touch with those two integral elements to the album, melody and rhythm.
“Tales From The Dark Reef” is a great example of the natural development of the Electro genre in an age where the extensive scope of modular synthesisers and DIY traditions have converged in the most expressive realisation of what artists like Drexciya set about to do at the gestation of the genre. The obvious deep-sea-dwelling connection is hard to ignore, especially with titles like “Octopus” but this is no mere revisionist hack job.
DMX Krew – Malekko Phase Mod (Fanzine) 12″
DMX Krew goes Techno! The UK DJ and artist falls into step with a 4-4 groove and drum machines plotting a determined course through four tracks that still manage to retain Edward Upton’s unequivocal robotic charm.
DMX Krew is nothing if not prolific. He releases a record a week, and we leave more music off these features than we talk about, but they are nearly all deserving of our praises. It’s never that others aren’t good enough, simply that a lot of them perpetuate a very similar sonic aesthetic so it’s only when he does something quite different that we latch on to the record and pay it and the artist dividends in this feature.
It’s not like he hasn’t made Techno before, but in a contemporary landscape dominated by slouching bodies modulating against a backdrop of draconian rhythms and miserable atmosphere, Upton injects a sense of frivolity and bounce back into the stale genre with “Malekko Phase Mod”.
It’s Acid tinged Techno born from chiptune and raised in a sporadic modular world, which in Upton’s hands is incredibly infectious. Striking dynamic arrangements and vivid sonic hues come together on a release that could get any stationary dance floor moving uninhibitedly, especially on the B-side.
Restive Plaggona – Double Standards (Sacred Court) 12″
Restive Plaggona is a Techno artist that likes to play on his Grecian heritage and imbues releases with and evocative sense of drama, destined for the club. Avoiding defined formats, Restive Plaggona’s music undulates between brutal percussive rhythms and atmospheres like horror movie soundtracks, in executions the defy all categorisation.
On “Double Standard”, his second release for the formidable Sacred Court label, Restive Plaggona continues to pursue an interpretation of club music that borders on the industrial, but it’s only ever on “Industrial Training Experience” that the music ventures close enough to a formulaic dance floor to be pigeonholed into Techno, and even then clattering noises and oppressive melodic atmospheres strip away any agency from a dominating beat arrangement.
It’s Restive Plaggona’s insistence on some definable melodic component in his music that sets him apart from his peers and whether it’s a simple arpeggio or distant harmonic reflections, there’s something tangible in the music beyond the sultry noise of the machines. It’s often exotic and on “Pink Collar” it’s very effectively contained in the ghostly vocal and the triplet acid line moving through the mix like a whirling dervish.
Techfunkers – Techfunk Is Where It’s At vol. 1 (Sex Mania) 12″ reissue
There’s a reason records like these are still considered classics today and why they are being reissued. It’s to remind us that any modern interpretation will always remain less-than their original counterpart.
Originally released in 1995 on the Sex Mania (apparently some of the inspiration for Sex Tags Mania), Techfunkers’ original LP in 3 parts is being reissued for the first time and volume 1 has arrived at Filter Musikk. And almost fifteen years on… it still holds up.
A track like “Techfunk Revenge” remains an archetype for Electro today with new artists diverging little from that sound, using the very same machines in much the same way to create modern copies, with a watered down effect.
Tecfunkers were the originals and what they set as precedent all those years ago have become formulaic and stale in recent years. The originals in their DIY stripped-back form infect a little more personality and while many new artists will do away with “cheesy” vocals like they appear on “Looking 4 Da Perfect Beat” in Techfunkers hands it’s still unique with things like the LA-infused onomatopoeia of “the” as “da,” reflecting the West-Coast origins of the genre.