Grime gets a look in, more techno vandalism and industrial terror, a North London dub derive (of sorts) and a welcome return…
Prostitutes – Crawl In From Broadway (from Ecstasy, Crashing Beats and Fantasy EP)
James Donadio has featured in these parts before under his Prostitutes guise. But any slanderous accusations of favouritism slung at this entirely unrespectable hovel for low-lifes can be scuppered. Like last time there’s simply too much cause for admiration in its fulmination of screw-loose techno and brutish boogie. Starting out with piercing, state-of-emergency alarm it quickly veers into an endless, batting chomp of percussion like a demented chorus of battered construction tools, then disorientating coils and drills of steel eventually get flung into the mix, adding a slightly lysergic edge to the rough and tumble. Not exactly refined but as far as harsh, head-down scuffles go it does everything and more; a dancefloor as something barmy, to be absurdly vandalised. If Einstürzende Neubauten decided to techno for an answer…
Yamaneko – Fragrance Transmission (from Pixel Wave Embrace LP)
To make an admission, grime doesn’t feature in this column nearly as much as desired. There’s little valid explanation for that but this goes some way to compensating for the dearth up to this point. Released by Local Action – who’ve recently put out DJ Q and Slackk material – it bears the familiar atmospheric trademarks; ominous anxiety and crude futurism combining to channel a sense of urban claustrophobia and social alienation. But what makes this so compelling is its departure from recognisable backdrops. There’s a defining reductionism and artificial digital lustre characterising this opening track, and the mood treads into something far more alien and phantasmal than the expected confrontations of kindred forms which are rooted in something more straight-edged. Despite being absent of the bravado, disdain and absurdist humour of vocal grime, the outcome here is just as interesting, adding credence to the potentialities of something purely instrumental with a distinctive execution of minimal elements and a sense of internet-age haunt.
Tuff Scout – Seven Sisters Curfew (from Inna London Dub LP)
Tuff Scout have been putting out 7s of quality dub and reggae since 2011*, a standard frequently drowned out by a lot of contemporary guff, the kind of criminally cheap-o digital productions played at student unions. A contrary exception, Tuff Scout productions often recall roots styles but with a keen, discerning eye toward contemporary soundsystems.
Despite consistent collaborations – including work with Big Youth, Mikey General and Michael Prophet – Gil Cang and Jake Travis have only now embarked on a project which puts their productions firmly in the spotlight. Their first LP delineates a coast through North London via viscid, chamber sonics, spiritual and deep, but with occasional smarting, enlivening effects.
The journey through London isn’t so much a narrative, instead areas are signposted as if representing territorial pride and cultural unity in an area (Camden Town and the surrounding areas) as preyed by spirit-sapping gentrification and tourist saturation as anywhere else within London’s inner regions. It adds a nice dimension to the formula, imaginatively associating their locality with something more favourable and vibrant than unmitigated, financially-motivated overhaul and capital. A dub derive through North London, possessive of optimum dancehall damage.
*Check the Prince Hammer ‘Righteous Man’ release for testimony to some of their impressive track record.
Maoupa Mazzocchetti – Muzzled/Coexistence (from Tranquility EP)
A namesake as grand and imposing as any famed Italian giallo film composer, with ghastly, razor-edged trax as intensely prickly and fateful as any of the gratuitous exploitation they soundtracked. Despite emanating from a relatively unknown producer - the Brussels-based Mazzocchetti - ‘Muzzled’, the second track on this EP, displays fledgling promise within its thick quakes, paranoid tones and caustic drum machine welts. It shares some footing with Legowelt in its measure of Carpenter-laced acid but avoids some of the retro-nerd goofiness of his recent work, resembling a character closer to Charles Manier’s recent forays drawing on the DNA of EBM. There’s a fair share of deconstructed house discernible too, with an additional thread of occultist murk not unlike the Shadowlust release on LIES. ‘Coexistence’ brings some maniacal allure into play, exuding the same flavour of volatile seduction in its vocals as early Cabaret Voltaire. All of these yet none of them, it mixes these traits into a singular mash. What’s great is how much the wrong and off is convincingly revelled in, the tones always bent out of shape and the textures always pushed to extreme, dense rampages of fizzing spume. But even though these particular moments stand out, the duration of the EP is a lethal intoxication. Vicious industrial terror for when the dancefloor turns ugly.
Helena Hauff – Severe Slash/Furthermost Nevermore (from Shatter Cone EP)
Contrary to the wayward offbeat flux of her debut on Actress’ Werk Discs and the uncompromising pump and harsh, defective frequencies of her collaborative project, Black Sites, this latest solo release on Zurich’s Lux Records finds Hauff direct and noticeably evocative of the kind of electro and acid which often dictates her DJ sets. ‘Severe Slash’ fashions a brutalized acid tang and wormhole ooze, with trademark handclaps and machine gun rattle and puncture powering it along, whilst ‘Furthermost Nevermore’ steadies the tempo into a gradual, eerie burn, with the bitter twist of acidic effects mutated further and further. The latter shows an aptitude for atmosphere, on top of the tendency to kick into onslaught and pummel in the case of the former; every indication that the DJ-ing prowess is now translating into some interesting and varied productions. At this juncture it feels as if Hauff is trying out a different identity with each new release, indulging another side to her sound each time. It’s thrilling to consider what could be revealed next.