Beatz By The Pound

a weekly look into the world of electronic musics...

Nucleus & Paradox
Dilettantes / Love Her
[Esoteric, 2005]

The subtle call-to-arms "DRUMFUNK WILL RULE" is inscribed on every Esoteric release. But that pseudo-genre (think obsessive-compulsive drumkit rinsing and Source Direct atmospherics) is a misnomer here. "Love Her," despite the title, is malevolent techstep circa 1996: clipped, large beats only halted by amens that lash out of the grooves. An epileptic bassline that emerges unpredictably like an alien chestburster and disappears. Meanwhile, "Dilettantes" has drums skipping and dashing over a warm, pulsating low-end—a frenetic run through the jungle replete with a panoply of real chirping birds. These would be pointless exercises in nostalgia if they didn't carry over the duo's trademark neuroticism and widescreen flair. And if they weren't such lovingly perfect summations of two fleeting eras.

Fi You / Twilight Zone
[Mashit, 2005]

Most ragga junglists these days are pretty content to drop a Jamaican guy over an amen cut into a thousand pieces (it doesn't seem to matter how) and call it a day. Mashit, on the other hand, treat the new ragga movement more like a retelling than a retread, unraveling threads that probably began as throwaway ideas in those early Nineties tracks. Murderbot's first two for Mashit are lyrical above all else, taking a cue from Remarc's expressionistic amen canvasses. But he isn't done at the drums, piling on hook after tuneful hook (some de rigueur, others charmingly kitsch) until the tracks blossom into songs—singing over a raunchy low-end that sounds like an analog tuba trio. You've never heard it mashed like this.

Song About My Bike / Green Blue Texture Jam
[Thermal, 2005]

Boston's Chris Leamy dips his head into free jazz and metal as well as healthy (if that's the word) doses of Optical-style neurofunk and minimal techno. Happily, his few singles to date—including last year's genre-defying "Twitchy Droid Leg" on Offshore—don't outwardly resemble any lame combination of these, but sound like they came from nowhere at all. "Green Blue Texture Jam" is as good a description as any, with anomalous melodies billowing through metallic ping-pong beats. It makes me feel like I'm gliding over a sunswept beach with my eyes clenched—a welcome counterpoint to the scores of producers who conflate "atmospheric" with "twee." The sprightly "Song About My Bike" pays tribute to the man's other hobby, making an excellent case for cycling as the transportation of choice in the gleaming 25th century.

Alpha Omega
Know How / Tribalist
[Subtle Audio, 2005]

Reinforced don't raise suckers. Easily the most original of its post-97 experimental climax, Alpha Omega nestles close to the label's roots in sublime, futuristic hardcore—often letting his deceptively complex stutter-stop rhythms fall away into gorgeous, cosmic breakdowns. "Tribalist" is the standout on Subtle's premier 12", somehow blessing its hyper-compressed drums (as insidiously catchy as a Neptunes production) with an exhilarating sense of space. The echoes of Detroit prove there's more to techstep than crappy cyberpunk impersonations. Meanwhile, "Know How" seals the deal with an onslaught of machine-gun percussion that shouldn't really make sense, but kills it anyway.

Fanu / FanuSamurai
Tales from the Sea / Galician Girl
[Breakin, 2005]

Judging from his latest on Ireland's Breakin label, the Finnish upstart might well be Goldie's long-lost dolphin brother. The title of the A-side is no coincidence; Fanu's apache ebbs and flows like water and dissolves when it crashes into a harder, stiffer break. It's a characteristically epic adventure, accompanied by what sounds like island maidens whooshing by on magic carpets, but those exquisite drums are what stamp it as one of Fanu's very best. "Galician Girl" is an endearing downbeat piece (still mixable with drum & bass, thank god), with a poignant guitar line that tugs at your heart and then refuses to let go months after you first met.

By: Ryan Kuo
Published on: 2005-07-21
Comments (0)

Today on Stylus
October 31st, 2007
October 31st, 2007
Recently on Stylus
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Recent Music Reviews
Recent Movie Reviews