Beats Working: New Blurt Blog Debuts

 

New BLURT Column spotlighting
“dusty instrumental hip-hop, techno and bass artists” kicks off.

 

By Dominic
Umile

 

When I
pitched a column idea to my patient editor at BLURT, it was with the intention
of carving out a place for its readers to find an intimate discussion of
electronic music, or records that are largely beats-driven, be it dusty
instrumental hip hop, techno, or the subject of this first entry, happenings in
various bass artist circles. My initial idea
was in part informed by a reaction to the instantaneous one-offs and press
release re-posts that are occurring these days with unhealthy frequency. I hope
to offer what I consider a deep and more personal analysis of new (and maybe
older) releases in lieu of the immediate, short-form album appraisals and
so-called “criticism” of “leaked” MP3’s that materialize
within 15 minutes of their mass distribution. I’m calling this endeavor Beats Working because there will be a
lot of talk of beats, and because consuming and thinking about music – whether
it’s on long subway commutes or sifting through records in my apartment – well,
it beats working. I’ve spent a good deal of time lately thinking about the
bass-oriented records that have come my way.

 

***

 

 

The
turbulent third LP from Dave
“2562” Huismans
(pictured, above) rattles so much, it’s unlikely
that you’d ever detect one of the disco samples that allegedly stirs and
stutters at its foundation. The Netherlands-born, Berlin-based producer has
been exploring a haunting dubstep-minimal techno sound for years, and even
though his source material was limited to loops from classic disco vinyl for Fever (no additional synths or drum
programming), the new tracks are far closer to hard, cold techno than the
releases in his recent catalog.

 

 


2562 – Aquatic Family Affair (doubt000 A) by 2562 / A Made Up Sound

 

 

The beats
are deep and pugnacious for Fever,
and the base of pre-album single “Aquatic Family Affair” as well as
the title track treads closely to the rhythmic patterns on Dave Huismans’ 2009
LP
Unbalance, where percussive
thrusts of kick drums and hi-hats drive an affable mix of dubby textures and
hazy techno. Fever is fascinating and
difficult to digest – at times it’s similar to Claro Intelecto’s dim Warehouse Sessions, devoid of the melody
that so frequently underpins the last 2562 outing. “Juxtaposed” is
rich with fluttering sci-fi sonics and long-echoing snare rolls, while Fever‘s mere chunks of bass and metallic
clinks are weaved into track-length machine rumbles on “Flavour Park
Jam” and on the blurting “Cheater.” Huismans trims dizzying
textures down to half-second bits and layers them on top of hard and jumbled
beats for most of the record, while tangible instances of tightly packed 4/4
dance music occasionally bubble to the fore – micro-diced synth bits and
backward swirls on “Brasil Deadwalker” and “Final Frenzy”
are built for a thrilling club set, but certainly nothing here sounds like
disco. Instead, Huismans expands his palette with a perpetually cryptic record
that’s really difficult to explain to your friends. I’ll take that over disco
any day of the week.

 

Drew “FaltyDL” Lustman doesn’t stray noticeably far from
the temperate analog sounds that we generally associate with disco records on
his second proper full-length for Planet Mu. As much play as the more prominent
UK garage and house-inspired dubstep offshoots are getting these days, New
Yorker Lustman has remained ahead of the pack, loading his work with
consistently provocative shifts in color and rhythm. On You Stand Uncertain, Lustman exhibits a refreshing and ever-steady
intention to sweeten lush, late-night house-driven dance music with strong
melodies and loads of atmospherics.

 

 


To London by FaltyDL

 

 

 

Often as
shadowy and hypnotic as the jumbled headphone opus he dubbed Bravery in 2009, You Stand Uncertain is also bright and dramatic, lined with risky
moves that make for the most complete-sounding statement Lustman has issued to
date. The doses of breathy, unfinished garage diva samples and spirited hi-hat
exercises that run through “Voyager” and “It’s All Good”
look back at his well-received debut album, as well as at his flashy Endeavor EP in 2010. Vocalist Anneka
(you heard her on Starkey’s “Stars”) figures into the You Stand… opener’s captivating swirl of
vintage organ keys and jangly percussion – the collaboration, along with two
others here, marks a new direction for Lustman, as he’s previously relied on
vocal samples to establish the intimate feel of his records, rather than invite
another musician into the studio. Live, untreated vocals instead of the usual
pitch-mangled snippets on “Gospel of Opal” are welcome, particularly
in the spots where sparse harmonies fall into place just ahead of the audible
acoustic guitar loops. The harder stuff is here too, in innumerable junglist
drum sources that tumble through “Lucky Luciano,” reminiscent of the streamlined,
breakbeat-backed Phreqaflex
and the
absolutely nasty “Never” remix that Lustman did for West Coast
beatmaker Eprom last year. [LISTEN TO MIX: FaltyDL for Dummy Mag]

 

 

 

 

 

Considerably
less light slips into the straight 17 and a half minutes of whooshing, rubbery
techno that newer UK bass producer Jamie
“Blawan” Roberts
laid down for his danceable Bohla EP, released on R&S. Drums play the biggest role
on this percussively robust three-songer. Roberts’ musical roots are said to
have sprouted behind a drum kit, and it shows, perhaps in the barrage of
rimshots on “Kaz” or in the deep tribal thwacks of the title track.
While Roberts deals an innovative hybrid of alien bass music and tribal house
on Bohla, the Round Black Ghosts compilation on Berlin’s ~scape comes to mind
after his “Lavender” takes off – the 2008 collection features a set of dub and
techno crossovers from artists like Untold and 2562, whose ideas back then can
be compared to the plans Roberts has now.

 

 


BR #47 Blawan by BOILER ROOM

 

 

 

I’m more
likely to return to R&S releases from James
Blake
and Pariah ahead of Bohla, because they’re overall more
aesthetically diverse, with the emphasis on UK garage sounds that I find so
appealing these days, as well as on abundant melodies. Hailing from a town
in Worcestershire, England, a trio called Swarms invests a lot of energy into building melody. They’re producing a psychedelic
but quite polished blend of bass music and chirpy midtempo techno, with heavily
coded guitar lines and frequent vocal samples worked into the mix.

 

 


Flikr of ur eyes by Swarms

 

 

 

Old Raves End, Swarms’ debut full-length for
LoDubs, sits snugly alongside the label’s releases from dubstep well-known
Clubroot, whose sophomore LP is loaded with similarly refined choral textures,
field noise, and somber, ambient 2-step tunes. Clubroot’s best work is in his
understated tracks, and Swarms is also strongest when they’re reining it in.
“Roulette” boasts broad, sweeping synth chords that move along at a syrupy
pace, clashing with the sped-up, indecipherable vocal churning the background.
The same batch of elements work in a slow, massive-feeling cycle for “Sky
Below Sea,” which is equally stirring, but the text msg-friendly
“Flikr of Ur Eyes” is the most comely of the lot. Tenderly strummed
guitars match measured synth swells and whispered vocal cut-ups a la Lali
Puna’s “Faking the Books” on “Flikr…” The beats that
eventually shuffle in barely disrupt this organic stretch, and close listens
summon actual fretboard slides as well as the affecting soft patter of English
countryside rain. [LISTEN TO MIX: Swarms And Geiom]

 

***

 

BLURT contributor and blogger Dominic Umile lives, writes, and
drinks in Brooklyn, NY. Follow him on Twitter: @DominicUmile

 

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