Adrian Bloxham was the recent, grateful recipient of a selection of techno/electonica/dance EP’s – the obvious link being that the various bands and labels were represented by the smae PR company; Tailored Communications – despite needing to gather Christmas presents and the like Adrian has worked his way through all of the releases and gives us his views:

Dense and Pika ‘Crispy Duck EP’ (Hotflush Recordings)
12″ Vinyl/DL – Available now

This is three songs using dark, muffled beats. ‘31’ is deep dreamy house, it keeps your attention all the way through its eight minutes by throwing in just enough extra sound on top of the hi hats and the beats. ‘Coil’ is techno, the muted sound of the drums carrying on from ‘31’ but the electro tune over the top is crystal clear. The title track ‘Crispy Duck’ gets acid whooshes and swoops mixed with industrial sounding clanks and clicks that make you look over your shoulder. An excellent three tracks.

Indigo ‘Celestial EP’ (Apollo Recordings)
12″ Vinyl/DL – Available now

Four tracks on this release. The emphasis here is on making textures from sound. Aural landscapes and ambient feelings. The music feels washed out and gentle. On the first three tracks any beats are very muted and faded well back in the mix, ‘Sunrise’ has drums and odd crackles but slow and off centre until the end of the track when the rhythm kicks in. None of the tracks seem to be going anywhere and don’t reflect the emotions that ambient music sometimes does. Not my favourite of this batch.

Jay Weed ‘Tunnel’ (2084 Records)
12″ Vinyl/DL – Available now

A straight two songs here. ‘Tunnel’ is stripped back drumming with an odd pattern and a sample ‘dig’ spoken over the top, the electro noodling around it make it sound funky and strange but this is my favourite so far. The remix by Huerco S feels like he has buried the song under a layer of hot sticky mud and it’s struggling to escape as it distorts and falls into itself.

Talismann ‘Talismann 02’ (Talisman Records)
12″ Vinyl/DL – Available now

Three tracks that just ache for young bones to explode into on the dancefloor. ‘Tiran’ is muffled growing and falling away techno, it drags the smile to your lips and the muscles in your legs start to twitch. ‘Zula’ adds a tribal drum pattern to the mix and turns the mood sexy and fun. ‘Xinga’ slows down and has a more straightforward beat but carries on the funky vibe. Of the three, ‘Zula’ is my favourite.

Walker Barnard ‘Sweatshop Spaceship EP’ (Serialism Records)
12″ Vinyl/DL – Available now

Five tracks, three on the vinyl release and another two are described as digital chapters. ‘The Long Count’ is another funky track, it quite literally rattles along feeling smooth and slick with rough, hard edges. Then it switches direction completely and gives us ‘Sweatshop Spaceship featuring Jaime Graham’ The vocal is pure Seventies pimp and hustler soul falsetto, think Curtis Mayfield in the bar in Superfly, and the music reflects this in it’s sweaty, funky, sexy throb. A true masterpiece. The two remixes, ‘Inxec’ and the ‘extended edit’ don’t add to it, they take away the vocal and the rhythm but in the end the mixes miss the point somehow of why this song works so well. The other track ‘Mothershipwreck’ is claustrophobic and close, a bass and hi hat sound swooping up and down around you.

MPIA3 ‘Your Orders EP’ (R&S Records)
12″ Vinyl/DL – Available now

This is on R&S Records and is unashamedly techno. ‘Crusty Juice’ is a bouncing minimal beat with a sparse keyboard over the top. The beats slow down for ‘Mountain of Ash’ but that doesn’t mean it loses any forward motion. ‘Roly Poly Babs’ is harsher with high synth sounds, ‘Acid Badger’ brings in an acid squelch over the top of the beats and ‘Your Orders’ mixes the acid and techno to perfection. The last track ‘Ridge Way’ is distorted straight ahead techno. The hardest EP of the collection without doubt.

The standout tracks are ‘31’ by Dense and Pika, ‘Tunnel’ by Jay Weed and ‘Sweatshop Spaceship’ by Walker Barnard. A selection of releases highlighting how healthy electronic music is right now, and how diverse the sounds can be that are released under that banner.

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Adrian Bloxham lives in Coventry. Has listened to and got far too enthusiastic about far too much music for far too many years, drunkenly djing various nights around Coventry when he was far younger. At the moment he will be found enthusing about the latest record he has stumbled over. He fixes computers and has a soft spot for good coffee and bad comics. He has all his own teeth and one knee that isn\'t original. Don\'t hesitate to get in touch if you want him to write about anything.

1 COMMENT

  1. (Fortunately) two sets of ears often hear different things don’t they? Therefore, here’s my slightly different take on the above tracks……….

    I was very disappointed with Dense and Pika’s ‘Crispy Duck E.P’, it’s incredibly bland considering it’s a Hotflush release. Maybe Scuba was feeling pitiful and generous on this occasion by allowing a sub-standard effort to grace his usually great label. Well, ’tis the season of goodwill I guess. Ultimately forgettable. Nothing more to say on that one really. Next….

    Indigo’s ‘Celestial EP’ on the other hand dispatches an excellent portion of brooding dub-techno/Basic Channel vibes; succeeding in delivering exactly what it sets out to do – swathing the listener with an emotional melange of crisp, dark ambient atmospherics which complement the understated and often distant, fractured rhythms. Definitely a winner in my book. Blissed.

    Jay Weed’s ‘Tunnel’ is quite an aural embarrassment, sounding like an over enthusiastic, under-educated schoolkid being let loose on a four-track mixer. Trying to pole-vault before you can crawl is never a good idea really. Huerco’s remix adds a milligram of spice that barely registers in the mix. Oh well, can’t win ’em all.

    The Talismann EP groans in all the right places, injecting samples and chord stabs over tribal beats while working the rhythms to somewhat predictably repetitive heights. Sadly, the rhythmic structures fail to deliver anything original or exciting. Maybe before his next venture, Talismann ought to listen to Shackleton’s ‘Music For The Quiet Hour’ and get a feel for what mindblowing rhythms could sound like. Just a thought…

    Now, Walker Barnard’s ‘Sweatshop Spaceship EP’ knows exactly where it’s going. A full-fuelled floor filler, hitting the house deep with some great crooning vocal breaks from Jamie Graham and funked-up bass guitar fretwork to boot. Not a bad track on the entire E.P. A towering inferno of excellence. Check it!

    ‘Your Orders E.P’. Oh dear. Dripping with 4/4 acid-techno rhythms, bleeps and clattering 303’s Tom Russell destroys practically any ounce of credibility he had using his nom de plume MPIA3. Here, he unashamedly wears his influences (Drexciya and the like) on his sleeve but doesn’t cut the mustard; not by a long chalk. The tracks are distorted, dated and much in need of being remixed by other DJ’s to save their collective asses. Avoid.
    Top tip for Mr. Russell: Stick to making tracks under your other monicker as Truss. FAR superior.

    Alongside Adrian, one of my choice faves from the lacklustre bunch would be ‘Sweatshop Spaceship’ by Walker Barnard. My other choice would be Indigo’s highly atmospheric ‘Celestial EP’. The rest? Well, maybe try again next year huh?

    And there you have it. Not one but two takes on a bunch of mediocre house/techno/electronica releases for the festive season.
    Merry Christmas everybody and don’t eat all those humbugs at once.
    Toodle Pip :o)

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