At the heart of Swing Ting, a Manchester-based collective whose core members curate nights, deejay at night and create music, sit Deejay Samrai and Platt. The duo came together initially to form a function where they could play out a diverse range of bass-driven tracks, non-ironically, to a crowd of slaves to the rhythm. Since its birth in 2008, the crew has since garnered the most apt residents for their monthly parties, including Murlo and Joey B. As well as promoting and playing out, the pair has also released a splattering of tracks, including “Head Gone“, which features one of our favourite vocal hooks by Mr Fox (one that Murlo later twisted into this bombastic number). So evidently, within Swing Ting, there is a steadfast dedication to diversity and dancefloor, which provides the context needed to appreciate Samrai’s neat, four-track debut solo release: Riddim Trax.
Stream: Samrai – Let It Ride featuring Mr Fox (Niche ‘N’ Bump)
The clue’s in the name: the priority here is rhythm. This is of course expected of the label, Niche ‘N’ Bump, which has always remained faithful to UK funky in its output. The record opens with “Let It Ride”, wherein a rumba-style beat gurgles and Mr Fox sings, soothing, “Music’s flowing, yeah yeah… Got me going, crazy…” This is not breakthrough lyricism but that’s the point. In true singjay style, Fox weaves another layer into the track’s soft, skippy rhythmical texture. The second, and final, number on the A-side is “Responsibility Riddim”. It’s an instrumental version of the previous track - again, proof of Samrai’s club-driven ethic. But its placement straight after the vocal mix is interesting because, in a clever bit of foreshadowing, it lets the listener know that the mood shifts when the record’s flipped.
If the A-side is all bloom and breeze, the B-side is shards of ice and tarmac. In “Problematic Riddim”, four to the floor, militant snares march you onwards until you reach a contrastingly giggly climax, its trembling synths reminiscent of a Sega level-up skit. Samrai continues to tease us; starry bursts dissipate as soon as they arrive. Things take a step even more left of centre in the finale, “Concrete Riddim”, when we are exposed to the producer’s most angular, spasming track yet. Muted drum sounds are stalked by prolonged, alien synths while some weird speech is muffled at the back; a plate of sounds that’ll have drum and bass heads licking their lips. Bashment in groove but grimier in tone, it is a brutally and beautifully contorted track. But the regular “hey[s]!” keep you stomping. And that’s the goal.
Stream: Samrai – Concrete Riddim (Niche ‘N’ Bump)
Words by Erin Mathias, 21 March 2014. Leave a comment
‘Machine Woman’ sounds like an oxymoron at first; an unholy matrimony of living tissue and cold steel, neither human, nor robot. Actually, it’s more than any spineless human or soulless droid could ever be, a tool working towards some purpose built from parts of both origins. Transhumanism ties in well with the attitude of Salford’s krautrock collective, GNOD, who convey their embrace of creative evolution through their own label, Tesla Tapes. Anastasia Vtorova releases as Machine Woman for the first time on here, previously working under her Female Band moniker to push lo-fi atmospherics. Vtorova’s multidisciplinary approach is evident as distant, downtrodden world cinema samples surface throughout the murky, experimental electronica on Pink Silk – ‘pink’ and ‘silk’ being two words that belong on the opposite magnetic pole to wherever Pink Silk resides.
Stream: Machine Woman – Pink Silk (Tesla Tapes)
“Machines are like people, but,” Vtorova explains via the proxy of sampled murmurs on “Machines”, though the revelation seems to become increasingly tenuous over the course of the minute, worn down by the involuntary shivers of metallic chimes. The faint buzz of the voice’s source – tape that acts as a conveyer belt for sound – is repelled by a doppler shift of ambience that creates uneasy tension in the mind of the listener, the sort of paranoid awareness that spooks unwilling trespassers. The very same voice is heard on “What did he say to you?”, this time in conversation. It repeats the title question throughout, though Vtorova splices it in a way that changes its tone implicitly – sometimes the question is framed inquisitively or ambiguously, other times it’s equivocal or challenging. Often the dialogue is unintelligible, and the moments you can make out aren’t always revealing as the second voice repeats the question aloud. As the track draws to a close, it’s as if the two voices become one, though their motives remain unclear. Regardless, what stands out most is Vtorova’s talent at drawing a narrative from the scarcest of sources.
The rest of the tape traverses marginally more familiar grounds, as the title track opens the release with what sounds like an extended snare drum death rattle. Grating sandpaper rhythms shuffle into the foreground and each hit of the drum propels an agonising whoosh that gradually intensifies. “USSR” carries a similar sense of dread and impending doom, the march of a black heartbeat distancing all else in the track as its title and the Slavic snippet at the start really substantiate a Gulag atmosphere. On the other hand, “Sneinton Market” conjures a different image altogether, referring to a local market. We’re not so sure about rural Nottinghamshire’s experimental electronic scene so the connection remains elusive, however the mechanical sparks and noises in the track bring to mind a montage of an industrial factory process rather than farm produce stalls. It’s as straightforward as Vtorova gets on the record, though despite occasional deviations in the synthetic clinks and clanks it doesn’t push in any particular direction – akin to a tool just going through the motions, perhaps. Vtorova’s work with consistent aesthetics impresses, as she’s able to imbue her sounds with intrigue, wasting little opportunity with barebones material. Pink Silk is one for fans of dystopian worlds as well as steampunk, and fascinates as much as it intimidates.
Stream: Machine Woman – USSR (Tesla Tapes)
Words by Tayyab Amin
Words by Truants, 19 March 2014. Leave a comment
We’ve been fans of Timbah ever since his first EP Can’t Love Without You. Two long, quiet years have passed since that offering which we called “like being served a plate full of tropical fruit after a decade of microwaved Supernoodles” but now he’s back on the warpath. His new EP Flow Poke, again out on Bad Taste Records, embraces a tougher side of club grime music whilst retaining a lot of the melodic sensibility that garnered him a lot of fans first time round. Although equally suited to our Functions of the Now series, the general consensus here was that a Truancy Volume might allow Timbah to fully showcase his predisposed diversity, and boy, did he come through. We were also lucky enough to get a few words on some extremely pressing matters including, but not limited to, The Lion King, Cossack dancing and, of course, Drake.
Hey man. Thanks for the mix and for taking the time to talk to us! How you doing? “Absolutely peachy.” Before we get into the nitty gritty, we were interested in finding out a bit more about the man behind Timbah. What are a few things we might not know about you? “Very little actually. I’m crazy obsessed with Adventure Time at the moment but it seems everyone is. And I guess that’s kinda obvious from that ‘Lady Rainicorn’ riddim I made. Are any of its viewership actually little kids? Seen me through some great times, that show. Big up James Baxter.”
We heard you were doing a few languages at university? If not making music, where would you envision yourself in 20 years time? “Yeah, I’m just coming to the end of a degree in modern languages, currently cramming my head with all the Russian and French idioms I can manage. Personally, I’ve never really seen music as more than a hobby. I’ve always just wanted to DJ at club nights and make riddims when it suits me, but I don’t really feel like I’m owed a career out of that. I’d actually really like to do something with the European Commission… but I hear getting a job is pretty hard these days so we’ll just wait and see what happens.” We were also wondering about the name ‘Timbah’. Obviously there’s the link to your real name but is there any special story to it? Also, are you aware of these guys? “Australia’s answer to the Dave Matthews Band”!! “Lion King was a big film for me and I always thought Simba’s name was dope. So I took it and put a T on it so it sounded like my real name. Also, yes, until recently I didn’t have a Facebook artist page and promoters kept tagging that band! They must have been so perplexed to have seen their name popping up alongside DJ Q in those statuses. They probably don’t even know who he is.”
Stream: Timbah – Thunder Clacks (Bad Taste Records)
You grew up in Nottingham but are now based in Sheffield, is that right? What can you tell us about the scenes there? When you hear about UK music you’ll always hear about the obvious places such as London, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow etc. etc.. Would you say they’re unfairly overlooked? “Yeah, this is my last year in Sheffield then I’m gonna have to decide where to go. To be honest, this whole idea of towns and their musical scenes is hard to comment on because everyone has different reasons for liking or disliking them and, actually, a lot of promoters in other towns just follow London trends with their bookings anyway. For a town to get put on the map, it really has to sort out its own vibe and come through with its own producers. I think Wigflex really did that for Nottingham a while ago with their bonkers garage mutations. More recently the Tumble Audio lot are coming through doing the same thing. When it comes to Sheffield… obviously the bassline scene is just dumb. Off Me Nut crew is the best thing going for pushing madhead bassline riddims, and have been doing so for years with a complete disregard for all the passing trends in music. I love Sheffield for that, everybody here literally goes in. Also, once a year all the soundsystem guys take their shit to the most beautiful locations in the middle of the peaks and everyone goes and parties there. You don’t get that in London.” Is there anybody coming out of these places that we should quit sleeping on? “Out of Notts – Killjoy, Sergic and Lyka, TOYC and out of Sheffield – Checan and Deadbeat. Maybe nobody is even sleeping on those anymore? Its real hard to gauge how big they’ve gotten.”
Both of your EP releases so far have been out on Bad Taste Records. Would you talk a little bit about your relationship with them? “So when I got to Uni, I went to a few Bad Taste nights and they were booking the sickest artists. I wanted to be involved, just to DJ really. I sent some tunes through to Dulla who owns the label and he was like “Yeah, let’s do an EP”. I was real slow at making tunes so it took me a whole 6 months to put an EP together which was Can’t Love Without You. Then I just stopped making tunes for pretty much 2 years. That was dumb. More recently through loads of Dulla pushing me I put together this Flow Poke EP and now it seems like I’ve got a much better speed of production, so maybe this is the start of me going harder on the production front.”
The video for Flow Poke is so great man! How much input did you have into that? “Haha, literally none! Dulla was in New York and just went and made it, and when I saw it I was just dumbstruck. Do New Yorkers get bothered on the way to work every day by this madness? I didn’t even know people could go that hard on a train…”
Stream: Timbah – Flow Poke (Bad Taste Records)
There’s a pretty noticeable difference in the sounds between your former and latter releases. You seem to have gone head first into the tough, nasty riddims! I guess with the two year differential it’s only natural but was there anything in particular that triggered that? “Well, I guess my first EP was a lot more introverted and I do like listening to music like that. But whenever I DJ’d, I always did just like to shell down the place. None of the tunes off my last EP were good for that. So I didn’t really end up playing my own stuff in sets, which I always thought was a shame. Equally, sometimes promoters would book me expecting me to be a sweet boy and then I’d just shell down their club. This new EP suits my DJing style a lot better, I’d say.”
One thing that’s definitely carried over is this ear for a melody which you really seem to have. You mentioned at the time of the first release that your music was heavily inspired by the likes of Rustie and Zomby who we think this also applies to. Is there anybody else in particular who has influenced your more recent work? “I guess Slugabed for being such a guy and certain dope peers in the scene, like Gage. When you’re in contact with people like that, they sorta push you to go harder and do more stuff. Anybody who goes in for making a verging-on-being-stupid tune and somehow manages to make it work really is an inspiration to me. I’d say this new EP is much less a product of many other producers’ influences. It’s more like just a load of sounds that I really liked and arranged in a way so that they weren’t completely unlistenable.”
You’ve talked before about vocal samples making a track more “human”, can you expand on this? Where do you find inspiration for your samples from and how do they work into your production? “Basically, a good sample can add an awful lot to a track. Once everyone hears a set of words, they have something to associate the track with and that makes the hooks a lot more effective. A lot of the recent samples I’ve taken recently are from US rap tracks. I think I’m drawn to them because they make a nice change from all the samples everyone seems to be drawing from grime interviews at the moment. I’m a big fan of leaving random spaces in my music. The vocals fill that space nicely and give the tracks a kind of personality.”
A lot’s been made of the “grime renaissance” we seem to be going through at the moment . You’ve got the Boxed guys getting a lot of recognition, Her Records, of course Night Slugs and Fade to Mind. The list goes on. Being somewhat in the centre of it all, we’d be interested to get your two cents. It must be an exciting time to make grime? “Really really good time in music, yup. Before this grime renaissance, everything seemed to be saturated with house. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against that music but whilst the house scene has always been going strong with a dedicated following since the 90’s, there has never been a time where it literally took over everything. Listening to a four to the floor beat for over 9 hours sure is tedious and I, along with many others, felt like I was forced into doing that for a whole year of my life which I will never get back, because of there being a lack of other nights to go to. I’m so glad we got Gs like the aforementioned grime guys coming to make clubbing fun again. We can all go mad to that music a lot more easily. Right?”
We’re a big fan of your remixes too! You’ve exchanged a few with Druid Cloak, both for him and a release on his label. How do you go about them differently? What with already having the source material and not having to start from scratch. “Yes! Druid Cloak is a badman. I really like doing remixes, probably more than making original material to be honest. I usually just take a few elements from the original track and go and experiment with them. That process is far less difficult than building my own riddim from scratch, so I’m always up for it.”
Stream: Druid Cloak – Sterling Thrones (Timbah Remix)
Your Truancy Volume has elements of R&B, hip hop, Jersey and more. What can you tell us about it? Is this the sort of stuff we’re likely to hear you play out in the club? “I guess my sets depend largely on my mood. I love going in stupidly hard when I play at grime nights, but other times those sounds just don’t seem appropriate. With this mix, I wanted to play all the stuff that I’m listening to at the moment and I think the lack of grime in it has actually made me reach further and for tunes that I wouldn’t usually play. Also, because of this whole grime resurgence, we’ve been hearing an awful lot of mixes that are full of crashy stop-starty pulse sounds recently, and whilst that all works well in a club, it ain’t the best home listen. People can consider this mix as a welcome break from their crashy bang bang grime internet forrays. You’re welcome.” How do you go about creating a mix, or more specifically, a club set? Is a lot of it based on what you’re feeling from the crowd? “Definitely. I have a few tunes that will always definitely get played every time I do a set, but largely I gauge what the crowd are feeling and stick on that vibe.”
You could have easily stepped into our Function Of The Now series, and even had a shoutout from Gage in our most recent, are you keen to show fans your versatility? “Yes! Big up Gage! I think versatility is important, and yeah, although I play a lot of grime, I don’t want to necessarily be associated with any scene. The music scene changes real fast and if you put all your efforts into developing just one sound, you kinda look like a massive douche when that sound is no longer a big deal.” It’s a strong tracklist, I take it you’re as big a Drake fan as we are here at TT Mansion?! How do you go about your track selection? “I absolutely love Drake. He’s so real. Literally the whole mix is just a big build up for the arrival of Drake so we can proper jam to him at the end. Track selection was fun for this mix because it wasn’t a question of ramming in all the exclusives I could get off other DJs, but just looking through all my playlists and finding my favourite tunes. I’m real happy with it.”
What does the rest of this year hold for Timbah? Can we catch you play anywhere? “Yes, already got a release lined up with Tumble Audio, which will actually have tunes that are even more club-ready than the last EP (if you can imagine that). Got a few nights coming up in April, one in Nottingham and one in Manchester, look out for them.”
Of course, we have to end on the Truants classics. What’s your favourite drink and when was the last time you danced? “Mountain Dew, and the last time I danced was in front of a class of kids I was giving a Russian language taster session to coz they had never heard of the Cossack dance. What is my life.”
Stream: Truancy Volume 91: Timbah by TRUANTS
Missy Elliot and Vybz Kartel – Bad Man
Anti-G – A Hype Up System
Night Drugs – G-Funk
Robin Thicke – Give It 2 U (Trippy Turtle remix)
Kingdom ft. Naomi Allen – Take Me
Littlefoot – Sell My Soul
Mumdance – Smasher (Sped up to 135bpm)
Chesslo Junior – Cashwave
Ghost Mutt – Rumble Pak
Knxwledge – Inoticed
King Henry – Enough Love For Both Of Us
Slugabed – Smile 4 Me
Tink – Bonnie
XTC – Functions On The Low (Milktray refix)
Dre Skull ft. Popcaan & Megan James – First Time (Sinjin Hawke remix)
Kanye West – Mercy (Schlachthofbronx edit)
Timbah – Thunder Clacks
Danny Brown – BAB (The Titts bootleg)
UGK ft. Outkast – International Player’s Anthem (Timbah remix)
Deft – The Count
DJ Rashad – CCP
Schlachthofbronx – G String Track
Nicki Minaj – Did It On ‘Em
Drake – Come Thru
Words by Matt Coombs, 19 March 2014. Leave a comment
Two years ago we interviewed P. MORRIS as he was popping up on the scene with his own Goombawave sound and the Bear Club Music Group. Since then he has relocated from his home state of Kansas to sunny Los Angeles, changed his name and has been tuning up his sound and production whilst working with all sorts of different artists. In the past year he provided the effortlessly laid-back vibe to Kelela’s excellent single “Go All Night,” which was featured on Solange’s ‘Saint Heron’ compilation and most recently put out a beautiful new tape titled “Debut”, complete with an immersive website experience. We caught up with him on the evening of his birthday, deep in the cut at SRB’s in Brooklyn just before his show with Sinjin Hawke.
Now that you live in LA, how do you think this affects you? Being in a more music-centric city with so much going on, do you ever feel the need to distance yourself? “I like how much music is floating around in LA. Just being here I’ve gotten exposed to a lot of different shit that I wouldn’t have been plugged into when I was in Kansas in particular. It might not be necessarily my number one influence but I’ve obviously been hearing more beat music, more kind of Low End Theory stuff. Admittedly, I wasn’t up on that sound because it wasn’t the local culture that I was surrounded by; that whole ethic of sample-based 4-on-4 type sound. It’s not my new shit or anything but something I acquired an awareness of when I moved out to LA. In addition to that, being there has me being more open to other kind of styles. There is a huge contingency of people who are really pushing techno in LA now, and that’s also something that I wasn’t super plugged into when I was living in Kansas. So it has given me the chance to kind of dig in more in these little pockets of electronic culture that I just wasn’t plugged into, you know?” Like FTM, Body High, LA Resource? “Yeah I see those dudes all the time, and I was up on that and the Club Resource stuff, but there were little things floating around on the West coast that I just wasn’t up on in Kansas. But all those other cliques are tight!”
How has working with vocalists changed your workflow, rather than working with sampled vocals? Can you talk about the Kelela experience? Is there anything in the future? “Working with vocalists, it takes less work in terms of the production because a lot of the sequencing and the rhythmic or melodic elements end up getting carried by the vocals in a way, and now my job is suddenly making space for vocals to be able to exist. So while it might be easier on the technical end, it’s much harder on the conceptual end of things because it’s like “This beat is hitting, but is there room for the vocalist here?”. In terms of working with Kelela, she is an incredible artist and an incredible professional. Moreover, she’s really good at pushing me to the limit, pushing me into territories that I wouldn’t normally go to. But it exists inside of me, and she is good at getting that out of me. Together we’ve been exploring that, and I’d like to think I’m doing the same for her, but at this point she is definitely teasing a lot of sides of me out. There will be a lot more vocal collaborations, I’m working on a couple right now that are all really good but I don’t know if I’m at liberty to say quite yet [laughs]. But it has definitely changed my process, for damn sure.”
Stream: Kelela – Go All Night (Saint Records)
In what ways have you been honing your sound and production chops? “Man, just being in LA. My roommates are involved in music so I’m overhearing a lot of technical talk. In addition to being brought into contact with music that I wouldn’t ordinarily touch upon in itself has pushed my production level to another, new echelon just because a whole world of possibilities has opened up when I met these dudes. But that said, it’s not like I have been sitting on my hands over the last year, I’ve definitely been practicing, playing piano more, working more on my drums and all that kind of stuff. Just tightening my game up all around, so inadvertently there is going to be progress, but the California move kind of accelerated that.”
Can you talk about the imagery in your new website with OKFocus and how it relates to the music? “Ryder Ripps, the guy who made it, we put our heads together and tried to figure out a way that we can kind of like have some sort of interactive experience that could accompany the music. For me on my end, I feel like there’s a lot of musicians and artists that are really trying to make music that exists in a club space, which is fucking awesome, I love club music and previously I’ve been really attached to it. But this music is much more suited to the in-between moments. It’s a great companion to driving around, going to go get groceries, just headphone space or weather your smoking by the fire reading a book type shit. So that’s what the visual accompaniment ended up hammering home. It’s a bunch of environment spaces conceivably, that my music can be a companion to; a walk in the woods, the backseat of a luxury vehicle, a crazy fucking Burj Khalifa lookin’ space in India! I just really want it to show that the world of P. Morris is much wider than the club confines.”
You mentioned Shibuya-Kei in your first interview, and my first post was on Towa Tei. I’m a big fan of shibuya-kei myself and I see a lot of similarities in your music, especially your new mix (tracks like Turtle Lounge, Hold Tight). It alludes to the idea of taking sounds from the past in a very hiphop or MPC sampler fashion to create a future-leaning sound, which can also come off as cinematic. You have studied film, do you think you have developed or strengthened a more ‘visual’ sense to creating your music? “Before I was making music I worked primarily as a visual artist, so I’m always thinking about things in those terms. I’m not one of those Pharrell or Kanye type of people who are going to tell you they see sound or whatever; it’s not like that. But as I’ve started to massage the song and the melodies, it becomes a little bit more clear what the direction is and sometimes that can have more cinematic qualities. Something that is apparent in all of those songs on the mixtape is that they are all a little world in of themselves. They are cohesive as a piece together but I think that each one exists on its own and that is something that comes from that visual space too. There is a great deal of diversity in terms of the sonic architecture, but at the same time its built all in the same era, by the same hands, but not all the exact same experience.”Have you ever thought about scoring? Yeah, it’s something I would love to do but it is something I don’t really want to cut corners on. It’s all about having the proper resources. Obviously the right place to record it, the right orchestra, so it would take a lot of money to be able to do that kind of stuff. With the right project, I think I could wrap my head around it but it’s not anything I would dive into because I feel like I couldn’t do it justice.
Listening to your new mix as a whole I get a very strong sense that there is a story going throughout the whole new tape. Can you touch on this? “I think the story in itself is nostalgia. That’s a vague notion, I don’t want to place to many connotations over it and color the listeners experience of it, but for me the crutch that it leans on is nostalgia. I use Burt Bacharach era horn sections that come in and out, I use nostalgic sounding string sections that come in and out, I use some more, almost musique-concrète interludes that are using sounds of cicadas and moving water and stuff like that. Those are all things that are immediately nostalgic for a lot of people. It’s a common ground that we all understand about the emotion being wrapped up in nature and temporality in that way. If anything that’s probably the clearest story there, and on a song-by-song basis there is a bit more of a narrative there. But like I said, I don’t really want to color people’s perception of it too much.”
Can you talk about your name change? “It was just time. I just really wanted to grow into something more mature, its nothing more than that. I mean it symbolises me taking myself more seriously just in terms of my career, types of songs that I’m writing, and the ways that I’m going to be positioning myself into the future.”
Is Goombawave a thing for you and your friends or are do you want other producers to catch on to it and help evolve the sound? “That’s a good question. When you release art, or anything out into the world, people are going to be influenced by it and suddenly you don’t own it anymore. I don’t want to prohibit anyone from trying to create the Goombawave. At the same time I might be a little bit bent out of shape if there was a situation where we sort of lost the breadcrumbs as we’ve walked through the forest. We don’t have any idea where we came from, where the notion of Goombawave came from, so suddenly it might be this thing like Dubstep. People who like Dubstep now are just like Skrillex, excision, Datsik, all these EDM names but they don’t remember Skream, Joker, Slimzee, or grime or any of the things that came right before it, so I kind of worry about that with Goombawave if it ever got to a point where it was completely out of my control. But it’s something I can’t worry about, and ultimately it would be a sign of a form of success that goes beyond money. It’s suddenly about cultural influence and stuff so we can’t be mad at it.”
What do you see for the future of Bear Club Music Group, your own productions and your work on Night Slugs and Fade To Mind? “I’ll answer the second part first. The FTM and Night Slugs dudes, those guys are first and foremost a family and second a record label or collective. Without being too bold, I definitely would assert that I am part of that family tree. Now does it necessarily fit within my immediate goals to be trying to deliver a bunch of material to both those guys? That’s hard to say at this point. I’ve just been focusing a lot of my energy on building my own platform at this point. So I don’t want to immediately discard the idea of some recordings that are going to trickle out with them, because there’s been a lot of stuff that’s been in the works for a long time. I can’t always speak for what’s going on in their side, but I can speak for what’s going on with Bear Club Music Group. BCMG is positioning itself to not only be able to define our own space but also bring that space into three dimensions for people. We have obviously existed as a music group in some peoples minds, like something you can stream on SoundCloud, but over this next year I want to make our whole world something that people can dive into more, whether that’s through merchandise, through immersive media pieces like we did with OkFocus. I just want to give people more entry points to kind of manipulate and interact with what we are doing. I want it to go beyond a music video or an interview or whatever.” That’s sort of like Kingdom how he put out work before starting FTM. “Yeah, the story is there I don’t want to draw the parallels too strongly but that is in general how it works is that this sort of tangent. It was really important for me from the get go that the family tree that a lot of my work springs from was proper, and there were a lot of different channels that I could have gone through. But I was really gung-ho about working with Nightslugs and FTM and I’m very appreciative of them allowing me to grow like a little flower on their little branch, but now its time to grow my own, you know?”
Anything else you would like to say about the future? “I’m looking forward this year to going out of the country. It’s finally something that has come to fruition thanks to a number of different things that have aligned on the back end. So this year I think people can look forward to seeing my face a little bit more after having either hiding behind being in Kansas or hidden behind being in the United States, suddenly I think the world is going to be a lot more open myself and my fans.”
Words by Joe Linden, 18 March 2014. Leave a comment
It’s been 30 years since Roland stopped manufacturing the 303 and well over 20 years since the acid sound it brought to both mainstream pop and underground dance music in the 90s has had any significant presence in either. Fact is, nothing ever really dies in dance music, and this applies particularly to acid and the 303. There will always be pockets of labels and artists keeping a sound or style alive. Acid Test, as the name would imply, is a label that aims to do exactly that for acid, an output of modern day twists on the most distinctive squelch in music. After releasing a trio of singles on the label alongside the likes of Donato Dozzy, Pépé Bradock and head Tin Man, Achterbahn D’Amour, known on their own as Iron Curtis and Edit Piafra, release the third LP on the label with Odd Movements. They have a tough act to follow. Recondite‘s On Acid and Tin Man’s Neo Neo Acid are two of the finest examples of how make an enjoyable dance album, a notoriously difficult task. Despite all three of their singles, in particular third release Acid Test 06, being very strong releases, this is not always indicative of an artist who can translate their work into the album format. Thankfully Achterbahn D’Amour handle the task admirably and provide an engaging and, perhaps most notably, consistent dance album.
Stream: Achterbahn D’Amour – Holy Romance Empire Clip (Absurd)
As album titles go, they’re rarely more appropriate than Odd Movements. The album is constantly twisting and manages to showcase how effective the 303 can be in creating certain atmospheres. The album opener “Holy Romance Empire” offers a warped acid synth line over a fuzzy driving house beat, creating an club track you can imagine immersing yourself in just as the night is really starting to get into its stride. We are then worked into “Passagen”, a haunting, mechanical techno and “Jaws of J.O.Y.” which ventures into a deeper acidic sound. Similarities to mid-to-late-90s acid techno can be found, though you won’t find anything as hyperactive as you would on Smitten and Zoom Records, the focus on creating visceral acid lines is still obviously something which Achterbahn D’Amour are keen on. For club tracks they are still remarkably unostentatious however, which gives it the ability to also make it an enthralling home listen without the threat of overpowering. The duo ease it out a bit a more for the next two tracks “Ladbroke Culture” and the title track. Here is where the Tin Man association becomes most evident with both tracks taking a more laidback approach akin to Neo Neo Acid. This not only helps demonstrate their versatility but it also prevents the album becoming stagnant, which is vitally important on a record that is so heavily focussed on one instrument.
The second half of the album is where the album really comes into its own. “Teen Sleep”s metallic backdrop offsets its ephemeral but intense 303 line and it burrows into the conscious to the extent that it feels a lot longer than the 5 minutes it falls just short of. A Throbbing Gristle sample kicks us into the album highlight “My Demands” which continues with the unassuming clubby acid lines but in a remarkably twisted manner. An unsettling vocal sample (we tried our best to source it, to no avail) which threatens to “detonate the whole fucking lot” combined with the restrained-yet-warped squelches creates a delight in its callous atmosphere reminiscent of a good serial killer movie. “Konigstr” doesn’t depart significantly from the blueprint set out earlier in the album but is a more straight-up techno affair which suitably gives you a final workout before ” Cream & Treacle (I&M)” acts as the soaring warm down complete with indiscriminate 303 notes, a reminder of the one thing that permeates the record.
Odd Movements will likely have some detractors, those who dismiss acid revivalism as lazy and unnecessary in 2014. Revivalism in dance music can, at its worst, seem like a misunderstood pastiche. Achterbahn D’Amour however have successfully managed create not only interesting acid revivalism record, but done so in the album format. Whilst the previous album efforts on Acid Test’s strength lay in their ability to recontextualise acid into a more home-listening friendly sphere, Odd Movements will undoubtedly wrangle itself into club sets. Experimentation with the 303 isn’t a new thing, with musicians as diverse as Daniel Avery, Boddika and Ceephax Acid Crew giving their own interpretations of acid meaning it won’t disappear any time soon. Achterbahn D’Amour and Acid Test don’t set out to create or expect to cause any kind of upheaval in which acid once again becomes the most dominant sound in dance music, but provides a tasteful modern homage to the little grey box of wires that has brought masses to their feet. Ultimately however, Odd Movements thrives where other dance albums often fail by creating an incredibly well executed introverted techno record which is just as easy to get absorbed in at home as it would be in a darkened room at 4am.
Words by Antoin Lindsay
Words by Truants, 18 March 2014. Leave a comment