Established in Manchester in 2008, the meandyou. collective of Andrew Lyster, Herron, Alexander Taber, Joy Orbison and Juniper began hosting parties throughout Europe before launching a label in 2013. Their latest release, the Bookbinders EP, marks the young label’s fourth instalment, with meandyou. once again bringing together artists with unique approaches to house and techno. Calling upon four producers from both Europe and the US, the EP presents a dark, introspective voyage, highlighting the distinct perspectives of each contributor. German producer and Workshop mainstay Even Tuell opens the record with “Boys Truth”, a twisted take on his usual house, dominated by a declarative yet distorted vocal. Recorded five years prior in his Kleestadt studio, the track feels like a time-warp, with its phased pads pulsating through temporal space. The track presents a nostalgic quality despite its modern, hi-fi sheen. Sul returns to meandyou. with the spacious “Does it for Andy”, a slow-building journey of murky conversations, reminiscent of a synthetic orchestra stretching between movements. Belgian producer Sensu makes his recording debut with “Simon”, a languid march with tepid drums, drawing you deeper with its rambling groove. The record closes with “Pink Grid”, American producer Fabric’s second release on meandyou. “Pink Grid” is a highly filtered affair which pulls the listener into its swells and silences, gradually forming and then deconstructing over its seven minute duration, before its final fade into the distance.
Fuzzy techno shrouded in anonymity. It’s got all the hallmarks of cliché, but Heartplay’s Téléphone has stuck with us over the past few months. The German producer has since dropped a second 12”, 002, but it’s his first that really speaks to us. Scuzzy and hypnotic, these two sides of wax seem to go on forever. There’s a simple, unending motif that runs throughout the 12-minute A-side, left unresolved amongst the throbbing kicks and the clamour of mechanical, modulated screeching. The flip-side follows the same pattern, opening with a hum of gnarly drone but switching up that screech into broken percussive darts. Familiar kick patterns appear, almost indistinguishable from the A-side, ultimately differentiated by the minute details. The tones are more muted, and the chords are pulled and stretched rather than live and direct, woozy and dazed rather than defiant. Drum machine strikes sneak in, deftly placed in open spaces while effervescent swirls cascade from above. It all drowns in a pool of discordant hiss, melting from its own heat. It’s easy to get lost in a place like this, where time loses all meaning.
SHANTI the producer stays lowkey, largely maintaining a promising Soundcloud having appeared on the Tobago Tracks takeover of Endless’ NTS show last May – a show that goes from Ana Caprix’s “Perthro” to a similarly steady edit of “Slow” by Kylie Minogue, before somehow slamming into about ten minutes of trance. Fun. Onto their own production: The stuttering, serrated percussion in “horizon riddim” ricochets like heavy rain off stone steps. Likewise, the sonar in “Bashful” rattles off the vocal scaffolding of whatever smoky, dream-filled room SHANTI plucked these samples from. “SHANTI CRISIS” is the remaining track on the Soundcloud account. A blend by West London’s 2K, it alloys SHANTI’s own production with that of the crunchy rubble of Dream A Garden-era Jam City. With only three tracks dropped so far, the sense of space listeners can meander around in is very much there. We’re looking forward to whatever they build next.
It would be easy to find the talents of Joseph Petersen somewhat maddening. At just 17 years old, the New Orleans-based producer is releasing incredibly complex, emotionally stacked music that bestows a sense of nostalgia well beyond his years. Teaming up with UK label Donky Pitch, his new Wishbone EP is a maelstrom with all manner of influences from electronic to American folk. This wealth is drawn upon from the causal ambience of the title track, foundation to the EP as a whole, to “Assault and Battery”, which sounds like a pipe organ taken for a joyride through the dimensions. Our highlight track, however, is “Considerate”, with its agonisingly tense, reverb-laden build-up giving way to warped club rhythms and a glassy refrain. Imagine a distant relative of Strict Face’s beautiful, rich productions. Safe to say it sounds like little else, a fact which speaks volumes for both the release in isolation and the accord with which it slots itself into the Donky Pitch catalogue.
Driving north through the Yorkshire Dales, we were well away from any club soundsystem, gig PA or Soundcloud page. Out of the city, it was a breath of fresh air in more ways than one as the usual interfaces for experiencing new music were out of sight. Sometimes all it takes is an aux cord and a little bit of trust in your friend’s iPod to blow your mind. There’s a foreboding tentativeness, an urgency, and a state of inevitability about African Head Charge’s “Off The Beaten Track”, intro to the album that shares its title. It’s opening is off-balancing: Textures I was not new to – such as West African percussion and the reverb of dub – were manipulated in unfamiliar ways, their timbres panned to lull and disorient. A distorted sweeper tore through, a galvanising siren propping up an illusion of its own Doppler shift. For this first build up, we rounded country lane corners uphill, beckoning the leaning trees in further only to see them shudder in the Northern breeze. The sounds were creeping up with such subtlety that I hadn’t processed them, and then came the most striking series of strings. The refrain is nothing short of iconic, a fast-moving carriage whip-cracked by the band’s exclamations. “What is this?!” No sooner than the track name and artist was revealed, I had forgotten them. So it goes.
Months later, and some thirty years after the last vinyl pressing, Off The Beaten Track was announced as part of a series of African Head Charge reissues through On-U Sound. It’s the same label where the original landmark in burgeoning psychedelic dub appeared. In 2016, it’s the sound of several musical puzzle pieces falling into place. It’s our hope that many more people are introduced to it, as we were, and re-introduced to it, as we were.
Words by Taylor Trostle, Aidan Hanratty, Akash Chohan, Matt Coombs and Tayyab Amin.