Consequence -Etcht001 Reviewed
Canada-born Cam McLaren has frequently thrown convention out of the window with his productions as Consequence. Appearing somewhat out of the blue back in 2009, his groundbreaking LP Live For Never on dBridge’s Exit Records formed a fundamental foundation of the Autonomic era, a movement which expressed an experimentalism with the 170 BPM blueprint matched only perhaps by Metalheadz’ now infamous Sunday soiree of the early ’90s, Blue Note.
Two full-length albums later (including one with Joe Seven as They Live) and McLaren has well and truly cemented his place at the cutting edge of drum & bass’ peripheral sounds. Yet, having released the bulk of his back catalogue via Exit, it seems the time is right for an imprint of his own. Enter Etcht Records.
Unsurprisingly for a man of such creativity, McLaren has billed Etcht as more than just an artist-led label, indicating it will also serve as a ‘sound design house’ that offers curated collections of loops and soundscapes to aspiring producers. Indeed, the label’s first release of sorts saw the return of electronica veteran Arovane, whose sound library offering marked the end of a 10 year hiatus from music. Now, for the label’s first proper release on wax, Consequence himself steps up with a quartet of glitchy, robotic innovation.
Lyon is the closest thing to conventional breakbeat D&B on the EP, its stuttering xylophone melody unravelling hauntingly beneath a muted, delicate break that’s strangely reminiscent of the techier bits on Bukem’s Good Looking Records. Despite the familiar jungle swing of the drums and, later, the toughened stripped back beat that takes prominence, this is still music far from the dancefloor, standing at a mere 2 minutes 40 seconds long. Rather, McLaren’s aptitude for creating intricate, textured soundscapes is apparent here, as if aware of exactly where to finish a track to leave us with the insatiable sensation of wanting more.
His attachment to creating continuous compositions is clear as the abrupt climax of Lyon, signalled by a brutish roar, guides us head first into the brooding monotone baseline of Modu1. A typically Autonomic arrangement with its discordant mixture of high and low-scale melody, glitchy diegetic noise and menacing synth lines, Modu1 is probably the EP’s strongest track and, in hindsight, makes Lyonlook like the introduction to the main event.
Oeraser descends into yet scattier territory as the hyperactive percussion signals a clear movement in McLaren’s compositions towards the well-defined boundaries of IDM, and sounds like something Aphex Twin could have conjured up in his Warp heyday. Ressed continues on much the same path, its industrial textures and synth layers evocative of the influence tough techno has had on this producer’s unique sound.
Ultimately this is an EP that demonstrates Consequence’s technical proficiency in sound design and his ability to create loops and soundscapes that serve an immediate but occasionally short-lived purpose, all drawn together by a dogged desire to push the boundaries of this tempo to an, at times, bleak and apocalyptic place.