Kablam’s debut EP for Berlin’s party-cum-label Janus is a haunting set of twisted, frantic club music. Happily perched at the intersection of ASMR, hardstyle and choral music, Furiosa slams together various body-music herstories. It brings to mind the militant rigidity of the hakken alongside the sensual tingles of a whisper. The EP surveys the sonic ecology of the human body: its squeals in the face of urban decay and apocalypse, its pleasure in sensing and moving. “Choking” is like a demonic echidna, its cutesy vocal sample shrouded in razor-sharp quills, while “Intensia” offers a window through the fog, towards the divine. In a time where mimicking the aesthetics of late-capitalism – chrome, collapse, automation – is a club music cliché, Kablam’s reorientation of human affect is as refreshing as it is punishing.
Regardless of what capacity or style of musical project Glasgow’s Kay Logan is involved in, the exemplary quality of her work is pretty much a given at this point. Previously, she’s played in Herbert Powell, produced in Larks and masqueraded as Rick Ross. These days – when she’s not wreaking havoc with Anxiety – it’s her Helena Celle persona standing at the forefront. I first heard If I Can’t Handle Me at My Best, Then You Don’t Deserve You at Your Worst some time last year, and when I learned of its recent physical release on Night School I knew I had to snatch it and dive in again. Drenched in cassette fuzz and lo-fi hiss, the record takes the scenic route and meanders around the peripheries of techno-pop psychedelia. “When I Get Out of Jail” chucks decaying sweepers, jangling keys and stark piano stabs into the cement mixer, whereas “What’s Really Going Wrong (3D Printer Mix)” is an eccentric stream of shrill bubble-burst poings over a beat that begs to be blended with “Idioteque”. Each track is its own distinct state, making for a delightfully warped and beautifully introspective listen in full.
NY-via-Kansas producer Beta Librae showcases her unique and introspective approach to techno with “april 4thh”, released this month on 1221’s comp 2 as a limited edition USB drive. Opening with heartbeat drums and shimmering synths that form an enveloping dub space, the track’s strange pulses allow for only brief moments of calm before hi-hats kick into the murky groove. From the depths a distant beacon and bouncing claps edge the track towards its more vibrant latter half, where guitar harmonics plead with mounting emotionality before fading into silence. Beautifully layered and intriguingly structured, it’s an affecting piece of music that excites us as to where Beta Librae may take us next.
Toronto’s Edna King has just released the gorgeous Pressurize EP on Modern Math. Her pattern of approach involves repeating and undermining her own sounds, beautifully retreading the same territory to trace over the results of each experiment. The release opens with the modulated sound of a woman describing a dream she had, in which an unknown man appears in her room. To console herself, she repeats, “This is not real.” That four-word phrase is important, as it lays a foundation of creeping uncertainty, a strange ambiguity that permeates throughout. The track rattles like an oncoming train: an enormous, unrelenting cacophony. This sound is inverted spectacularly, however, as it leads directly into the haunting beauty of “Tracing”. Vocals are again layered and treated, this time evoking images of a rural, mystical landscape – one I selfishly imagine as Irish, or at least Gaelic. The sound of “Wake Me Up” (which ties back to opener “Dreams”) is equally treated, yet seems fixed in an urban setting, electronics and skyscrapers replacing woodlands and open fields. The title track firmly enters the city’s murky undergrowth, while “Memo Me” feels more nebulous and confusing rather than dark and oppressive.
A couple of weeks back, Leeds party Cosmic Slop brought Hunee down for a (not so) secret set. While the Rush Hour artist’s guest appearance was the selling point, the actual highlight of the night came when resident DJ Tom Smith played 070’s “Freestyle” over their exquisite, custom-built soundsystem. The song grabs you from the first verse, as Shake070 makes the track her own in a way that belies her relative anonymity as a rapper. Her cold-eyed assertion, “You don’t wanna see me make the best of me, jealousy / Kill a man, jealousy,” ushers in the chest-pounding instrumental from BigBruthaChubba and K$upreme’s “10 Cellphones” – which she proceeds to tear to meticulous, autotuned pieces. While none of her supporting cast quite manage to impose their charisma on the track as much as she does, their switches in verse structure comfortably fits with the push and pull of the beat, ensuring the eight-minute runtime avoids monotony. The highest praise the freestyle can be awarded is that at Cosmic Slop, there’s not a CDJ in the house, meaning that the residents paid their hard-earned money cutting a dub of it to play out.
Manchester meets Vienna with this collaborative EP from Tin Man, Jozef K and Winter Son on the inimitable Acid Test label. The tracks were formed from Tin Man lending his unmistakable acid tones to the ambient creations of Jozef K and Winter Son. The title track, “Fates Unknown”, creeps in with the 303 in a similar way to Tin Man’s recent collaboration with Cassegrain, “High & Low”. This one’s a slightly more subdued affair though, with the glorious piano track perfectly lending itself to the hypnotic, winding acid line throughout. “Pendle by Night”, which we assume takes it’s name from the area just outside of Manchester, drops the piano but retains the entrancing late night journey vibe, with shades of Pantha Du Prince at his finest.
Words by Tobias Shine, Tayyab Amin, Taylor Trostle, Aidan Hanratty, John Hardy and Antoin Lindsay.
Photo: KABLAM by Märta Thisner