Friday, August 11, 2017

Like 38s in Dalston: a singles round-up

















Sorry, just realized we overlooked another modest pile of twelves on the basement floor – it was only really a few ‘techno’ platters (all things 128 bpm, give or take) that we got round to last time. And these aren’t singles that anyone should miss.

After last year's assuredly ace “Four Sides Of Truth” EP on Tresor, the ever-excellent Mønic resurfaces on his own Osiris Music with a different, more quixotic offering, “Deep Summer", which we’d herald as something of a landmark. It builds from gentle waves lapping engineered, beatless atmospherics through to Trembling Blue Stars recording an experimental ballad in an echo chamber before subsiding again to the sound of waters crashing onto the shoreline. 

The subtler textures and spectral female vocal sample swiftly put one in mind of Burial, so blow us down with a feather when none other than Burial himself rocks up with an ersatz (‘ersatz’ here meaning ‘bears virtually no resemblance to the original’) B-side remix, skewering the rare beauty of “Deep Summer” with stalkerish sampled speech, beatless spells and an avalanche of bells and xylophone; it's fascinating, but not in all honesty a banker for repeat listens.

(As an aside, it always gives us an involuntary grin when two artists that we’ve liked for ages eventually hook up, as if we were responsible for the matchmaking ourselves: like when Cappo finally recorded with Jazz T and Zygote, or when Carcass remixed Björk, or when Ice-T fronted Slayer, or when Shane Embury teamed up with Gunshot, or indeed when Shane Embury played with Mark E. Smith… next on our list, we’re hoping for Bracken to remix Coke Bust).

But what’s this? Issued just two weeks later - surely a record for a follow-up single, although we’re told that it’s really just to be treated as part 2 of an Osiris ‘deep summer’ salvo - comes that man Mønic again, with “Regret Was Never So Sure”, a very different beast from the sultry summer ballad of 14 days before. 

"Regret..." is a procession of spinning DnB-infused majesty - shot through with a monstrous wall of clambering bass - that doesn’t neglect the industrial influences that made “Lust Product” (Mønic’s last EP under his birth name, Simon Shreeve) such a cooker. And the B-side, which couples a blissed-out Regis remix of the title track with the slightly subtler reverb-drizzled ambience of “Forbidden Memories”, ensures that this is an all-round 12” of some calibre.

There are two more here from Osiris too: the Egyptian gods are spoiling us. The mysterious Icore (if you try googling her/him, you get the International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts, which seems wrong on several levels) delivers a debut 12” over five tracks called “Substance Over Shadow, which will be manna for label devotees. On brilliant, bright, Lalique-green vinyl, too.

The title track is perhaps the easiest to admire – peals of languid melody and glistening synth swathes oozing from a muggy swirl of dustbowl percussion – yet there’s much to be said for the multi-textured post-industrial lament, “Stasis Field” and the windblown moors of heaving bracken summoned to mind by the imperious “Claimed By Night”.

Meanwhile the artful Pessimist brings his ‘A’ game with the splendidly sinister “Pagans”, a sinewy slice of brittle and unnerving West country DnB-meets-darkstep that sounds like a ghost train shuddering over volcanic sleepers of bass that. In the words of fellow Bristolian artists the Flatmates, it shimmers in the night / like a firefly, burning bright (shout outs to William Blake there, too). Thankfully, we managed to hit up “Pagans” on the re-press.

If anyone’s pining for further Burial remix thrills, he pops up again on (silver) 12" vinyl on the flip of Goldie’s “Inner City Life” 2017 redux, on Metalheadz of course. “ICL” remains a classic tune, and it’s not Goldie’s fault that if you don’t turn the volume up enough it can now seem redolent of the sound of a thousand (outer city) London coffee tables. But here the rebooted A-side feels right, starting deceptively commercially with Diane Charlemagne’s vocal flourishes before it moves on to an instrumental section that sparkles with some serious jaw-sliding drum and bass antics. 

As for the Burial version, it’s as intense as his “Sweetz” collabo on the last Zomby album, with all the energy, fire and fury that he has largely eliminated from his own recent run of singles. Unlike his take on “Deep Summer”, you can also recognise it as a remix, rather than purely an opportunity for free-form creative (com)posing.

But let’s end with this latest West Norwood Cassette Library 12” on Sneaker Social Club, “Hardcore Librarianism”. Ah, it’s a time capsule that transports us back to the turn of our century, when D’Alma and I used to roll around SW4 in a sports car gauchely blaring out DJ Cam, Junkie XL, Teenagers In Trouble Vs. Fat Paul and an absolute barrel-load of French hip-hop (er, we were young, and the new Shinkansen releases didn’t really sound right riding Clapham High Street with the Koni air-shocks). 

And I know we would have loved this EP to death, splicing “(Every Time You Touch Me) I Get Hype” with Dee-Jay Punk-Roc and “Theme To Street Knowledge” with Kid 606’s caustically lo-fi V/Vm take on its daddy, “Straight Outta Compton”. Now those days are gone, yet the cheek and joy of this record still hits the spot (see also: DMX Krew) and we’ve also discovered that it’s great music to clean out a paddling pool to, especially when the drum and bass elements get going on side B. Sample clearance, I hear you say? Mate, that's a young man's game.

No comments: