It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since Berlin resident Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf provided us with the fifth edition of our Functions of the Now series. There we were given a taster of what Biberkopf does. As Tobias put it so succinctly “JGB works with Jersey and grime most prominently – yet smothers them in industrial gloom and concrète austerity” and he did so to stunning effect. Obviously we weren’t the only ones taken by Jacques Gaspard’s unique outlook and we’re now presented with Ecologies, the first EP on Truants favourite Kuedo’s new label Knives.
Really, the fact that Kuedo picked up on Jacques Gaspard makes perfect sense. One of the most alluring things about Severant was its outstanding synth work and melodies which made it feel inherently natural and human against a somewhat more artificial backdrop. Ecologies conjures up similar images with the opener “Air. Coltan. Carbon. Lithium.”’ The synth line sounds like something the ex-Vex’d man would put together himself. “Spirit” is perhaps less obviously melodic but cranks up the imposingness up a level, with the choir samples making it sound vast and monumental. Meanwhile zooms and clicks contrast with squelches which manage to continue the motif of nature and the artificial co-existing. It’s this rooting in nature that makes Ecologies that bit different from those that JGB has been lumped in with. It has undeniably got an investment in modern day technology, but the whole thing feels natural and human. The samples of water running and orgasmic moans in the tracks alongside windscreen wipers and other familiar everyday sounds are an obvious indicator of this. In a world where biotechnology is now so prominent and will only continue to influence our lives, Ecologies feels more present than almost anything else out there.
“Waters”, which we were originally given a taster of on his FOTN, fits slightly more snugly with other current grime artists, recalling the likes of Sd Laika in how it drifts into horror-inspired territory. It’s intense and probably shouldn’t be listened to in a dark room on your own. The rhythmic makeup of the EP is what sets it apart from similar sounding records. The slow, heavy and doom-laden “Black Soil” contrasts with “Age of Aquarius” sonically, atmospherically and structurally. The latter turns out to be definitive highlight of the EP, the booming, racing percussion working harmoniously with bird chirps before descending into an absolutely riotous jungle-esque monster. It’s obvious JGB isn’t solely interested in creating a concept EP, he also has an eye (or ear) on the dance floor too. Ecologies is an impressive exploration in both contemporary club sounds and rhythms; creating a unique view on the current coexistence of nature and technology. Ultimately, a very exciting first foray for the producer.