Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Niereich “Ventricular (Remixes)” (Nachtstrom Schallplatten): Ryuji Takeuchi “Invisible Armor EP” (Local Sound Network): Loop “Array #1” (ATP Recordings)


Greetings, comrades. Fuck the Tory party conference (obviously). Instead, why don’t we sit down and listen to three singles that, between them, last an hour and a half…?

First off are four blokes we’ve never heard of, remixing a solid but fairly nondescript track from an affable but unremarkable album. On the face of it, then, this “Ventricular” remix EP, re-harvesting a tune from Niereich’s “Ghosts & Flowers” long-player last year, does not provide the recipe for essential listening. But sometimes we relish such challenges, and Niereich is an artist good enough to go the extra mile for. Also, this 12” on Nachtstrom Schallplatten is on clear red vinyl, so plenty decorative. Our little heads can be turned by such things.

So if “Ventricular” once felt like a story without an ending, it now has four: Joachim Spieth’s subtler re-fashioning of the song provides the right jump-off, Kessell transforms it into a chiming, discombobulated repeto-fest, Flug decides to pilot it into the outer reaches of the galaxy before crashlanding on a planet festooned with craters fair frothing with spacey synth loops, and Dave Tarrida then returns it live and direct to the dancefloor, drawing on the original’s punishing, rattling rhythms.

“Remixes” can’t match the calibre of 2014’s “Das Testament” 12” on Overdrive, which contained four mixes (including the original) of that doozy: nor does any one of these re-interpretations hit the somewhat dizzying heights of Mike Humphries’ Testament remix, which threatened at times to redefine the word “addictive”. But, with at least three of these redux Ventriculars overhauling the original, the whole package is definitely worth the extra effort.

Now. Like last year's tour de force "No Way Out", Ryuji Takeuchi’s new EP (English translation: “Invisible Armour”) pairs claustrophobic RT originals with guest remixes. Unlike "No Way Out", however, each side of the 12" kicks off with the remix, so you get to hear the variation before you've heard the theme, if you catch our drift. Here, the would-be Rachmaninovs are Glaswegian producerbloke Deepbass, and Canada's Obscene Mannequin: the former smooths out the untamed barbs of the bracing "Silhouette" (imagine “Vital”’s factory haze, punctured by what sound like at least different two car alarms going off) into a shimmering white sea of easy-bubbling synth patter, yet still maxes out the original's somewhat brooding atmosphere.

On the other side of the record, on which the Takeuchi version of “Veil” splices a shimmering and insistent synth line with a distinctly un-shimmering industrial percussive sledgehammer (take that, Paganini), Obscene Mannequin’s 'pre-mix' manages to shred both synth and the sledgehammer, opting instead for a mannered 4/4, yet if anything its sinister, frothing grooves up the intensity still further.

Speaking of intensity, here come Loop with their comeback single, “Array”. Yes, single, whatever ATP say. It’s got 4 tracks; it’s a single. It has A and B sides, not “one” and “two”; it’s a single. It may play at 33rpm (as do the two records above), but that’s because it’s a very long single, their first since (approx) the invention of the internal combustion engine.

The opening “Precession”, the token newie previewed at their Garage show last year, may not be able to dislodge “Collision”, “Black Sun” or “Got To Get It Over” in our all-time affections, but its churning iridescence just-as-sweetly announces that Loop are right back in the zone: then, after the crawling heart of another fairly classic Loop tune, “Aphelion”, comes the *major* “Coma”, which is a beautiful, minimalist and beatless seven-minute drone, just as compelling as Lull, or last year’s A New Line (Related) 7”. And “Coma” in turn lays a pathway for the epic “Radial”, on the B-side, a piece in three movements which splices another riff-led guitar loop inbetween piquant slabs of cooled white noise over sixteen not unsumptuous minutes.

Many have tried to emulate Loop over the decades, but the truth is this: in other hands, this kind of music often feels self-indulgent. Few have Robert Hampson’s continuing talent for making the repetitive seem so accessible, and the epic sound so fresh.

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