As you try to wedge in another record into a collection that has outgrown its presumptuous and downright foolish dimensions, something seems to give. The DiY flatpack ikea record shelf/DJ-platform/speaker-balancer shows its true integrity and buckles like a politician caught in a lie. You consider your fate, being crushed under the weight of a record collection, you’ve barely had a chance to play once and see the headlines flash: “obscure knob-twiddler dies under the weight of archaic hobby.” Be honest… would you have it play out any other way? Didn’t think so…
For while there it seemed pointless to maintain this little feature. It seemed after the pandemic even more people shifted away from the format. Labels that had staunchly dedicated to vinyl were now cropping up in different guises on Bandcamp. The people that bought the records concealed themselves in darkened rooms, illuminated by the sickly glow of computer screens. Suddenly vinyl-DJs were showing up to sets with fanny packs rather than record bags; their previously carved right biceps, flapping in the wind with barely any resistance.
Resistance to the 21st century’s technology finally seemed futile, but as we started opening up again the truly determined emerged, unfazed and stronger in their stubborn pursuit of their love for vinyl.
In a small city like Oslo, they’ve only consolidated into what can be described as a tribal cult. There’s nothing really social or network-like about it, and except perhaps for the acknowledging nod or brief greeting, the introverted nature of the people and this pastime is very much a solitary affair for most. The dedication however is unparalleled and as the majority turn further away, the vinyl collectors and enthusiasts have only become more entrenched.
We’re on a precipice of the unknown as factors like the environmental impact and the rising costs of production take precedent, but that has only fortified their efforts with more selective tastes and selective outlets informing these tastes. There are few selective outlets that can be trusted to share the enthusiasm, and fewer still that will truly alleviate at least some of that burden of potential unwanted additions to overgrown record collections. Luckily, in Oslo we have Filter Musikk.
Filter Musikk continues to be the holy grail for record enthusiasts in the city and a bastion of good tastes regardless of style or genre. In recent times its tastes have expanded from proprietor Roland Lifjell to the next generation of tastemakers, Sverre Brand and Erik Fra Bergen (Sagittarii Acid) who’ve started to become regular fixtures behind the counter. They are carrying the baton for vinyl to its next phase and when I send an email to ask Roland where his particular tastes might lie in this week’s selection, I’m pleased to receive a reply from his younger counterparts. It’s the cut with Filter Musikk.
Indio – Phoenix (Detroit Dancer) 12”
It’s John Beltram in a feisty mood. Adorning his Indio alias, the legendary US producer, steps out of the ambient realm into a Techno prototype. The melody remains central with a bubbling loop that refuses to resign. Machines stutter along involuntarily, building through to the inevitable tension supplied by ecstatic strings that evaporate into the ether towards the end.
It’s Detroit at its best, taking a page out the original pioneers, bolstered in the clarity of modern technology. ERP sends it to the future, on an electro-beat in his rework of the track, while Stryke brings that humid Miami vibe to the fore. Both remixers retain that melodic appeal of the original, but while E.R.P puts his mark on there with a skipping 808 kick, Stryke subdues it in the presence of a bouncing booty bass.
Acid Synthesis – Acidwerk (Planet 303) 12”
Aceed! What else would you expect from an Acid Synthesis record called Acidwerk on a label called planet 303? I’ve hardly heard a 303 sing so sonorously. It takes a certain dedication to maintain this level of discipline for a sub-genre in the way that Keith Farrugia does it here for this project and this record.
There’s no sample-pack-pick-mix at work here as the producer manipulates the 303 around grooves that truly show the vast expanse that the Acid genre can cover. From the practically-coined, dance-floor focussed Acid to the melodically-rich craftsmanship of the Acidwerk there’s a little bit of everything for a variety of music heads to dip their toe into. Even though titles like these leave little to the imagination, the songs – and they are songs – are rich in depth, with a sterile sheen covering the textures of tracks.
Acid Synthesis and Keith Farrugia’s other projects remind us very much of the quality and versatility of E.R.P/Covextion’s work and, thanks to Erik and Sverre, definitely an artist we’ll want to hear more of in the future.
Tim Reaper / Dwarde – Shiftpitchers / Not Afraid (Beyond Electronix) 12”
There’s definitely been something in the air when it comes to Drum n Bass and Jungle lately. It’s been on a few lips over the last couple of years, and a few lips we wouldn’t have expected it on. It’s having a moment and not in that hyper commercialised way of a few years back, but more rootsy and sincere.
As with anything, it’s always hard to make that distinction between good and bad versions of a new encounter with a genre, but it seems people are garnering more discerning tastes when it comes to Drum n Bass and Jungle these. Those stadium metallic sounds, that borrowed heavily from the likes of Skrillex are dwindling with the attitude and sounds of the roots of this music stepping more into focus.
This is the case for this 12” split from Furthur Electronix imprint Beyond Electronix. Tim Reaper and Dwarde, two artists that have been working together since 2012-ish, appear on their latest, which happily falls into that good category when it comes to the genre . Between the heavy breaks and crushing bass, these tracks deliver in their own unique way. While Dwarde channels those soulful, sample-based inclinations of the genre’s origins, Reaper seems to fold in the entire history of UK bass music and soundsystem culture with elements of dub and reggae weaving through the energetic rhythms.
The too-pristine metallic-nature of a lot of modern DnB and Jungle is replaced by a chaotic and rich anthropomorphic noise.
DJ Backspace – Blackout (Altered Sense) 12″
It used to be called intelligent dance music or braindance, but It was always Techno. I guess because people had no handle on how this music was created in the beginning they thought people like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher were electronic music savants. It’s more likely they hardly had any idea what the results were going to be themselves when they pressed play on their machines in trying to emulate what they were hearing from Detroit.
It was and is, simply Techno, but as the term Techno itself gets modified and commercialised, we need something to distinguish this form of Techno from what most people associate with Techno today… you know, those people. While the terms Braindance or IDM still sit awkwardly on the tongue for most, it makes a good case for separating the wheat from the chaff on this record.
Broken beats and glitching synthesisers find an elusive middle ground here as stark melodies and jaunty atmospheres forge through random arrangements. There’s a human touch interspersed throughout brazen computers vying for the listener’s attention. In a manner that reflects the best of that dichotomy, DJ Backspace delivers four engrossing tracks.
The Electro-leaning rhythms and spastural melodic work counterpoints wonderfully against the barbed playfulness of the breakcore elements. “Electromo” and “C.I.T.Y” exemplify the best of these worlds, while “Blackout” and “New Experience Of Living” offer something more rugged and challenging, if only a little.
DJ Fett Burger – Astral Solar, Edge of Galaxy, Planetary Exploration (Sex Tags) 12”
It’s all about the remixes on this one. Consolidating the digital releases from Fett Burger’s Digitalized Planet B in 2020 to vinyl, DJ Fett Burger gets these tracks on their intended format.
Astral Solar and Planetary Exploration is unmistakable Fett Burger; that eccentric versatility core to his work as he moves between the collage-House of Astral Solar to the galaxial- Electro of Planetary Exploration. While these tracks have made the rounds since their initial release in 2020, the attention on this record turns to it is his own jackin’ take on Edge of Galaxy and SVN’s downtempo treatment of Planetary Exploration.
The Bad Booy Lenght V.IIbe PTX take on Edge of Galaxy is bass-heavy killer, switching between filtered breaks and drumline snares with synthesised bass dragging the whole thing down to murky depths. Submerging the listener in a frothy wake of low-end frequencies ebbing through the track in lysergic movements. It digs deep trenches with its slow groove, only perhaps lagged by the tempo of SVN’s interpretation of Planetary Exploration.
A downtempo electro masterpiece retaining all the appeal of the original, but presenting it as this not-quite-ambient synthwave track. Filters gape in stifled breaths, giving the track an organic pulse, moving slowly across the rhythmic beat.