Hound Scales // Pinky Violence
Label: Fifth Wall
Release Date: 16/07/2014
As co-owner of Fifth Wall, the Pinky Violence EP is not only a homecoming of sorts for NY resident Hound Scales, it also finds him looking to his immediate surroundings for inspiration. For a while now, a certain sound has been coalescing around the big apple - sludgy, low-slung House, loosely spearheaded by the label L.I.E.S. With the previous EP on Fifth Wall showcasing local talent (L’estasi Dell’oro, Loric, Shawn O’Sullivan & Greg Z), there seems to be a pleasing sense of aesthetic alignment amongst this growing crop of NY Techno-heads.
There has always been a stand-offish, punk mentality to the Fifth Wall output – nuggets from the EP’s press-release include: ‘Tearing down and rebuilding, the effect of world war on romantic relationships…’ and: ‘mother fuck Mark Wahlberg’. With an ethic-statement that admirably grandiose, it’s a good thing the city is catching a collective wind of inspiration. Accordingly, Pinky Violence sees HS down sticks from his usual cerebral thump: lowering tempos and upping the slinkiness, the resulting sound is sleazily inviting.
Closing tracks ‘Youth Series (Rayon Dub 1)’ & ‘Superior Headwraps (Rayon Dub 2)’ epitomise that sleaziness, the pair are carved out of a fuzzy tribal stomp that’s both sweatily primitive & erotic. ‘Youth Series…’ takes the sculptors chisel to it’s murky bedrock of tape-saturated static, unplugged guitar noises and child-trapped-in-a-well vocal samples; somehow the outcome is both funky and elegant. ‘Superior Headwraps…’ successfully conjures the ghost of gristle past in it’s closing stages’ EBM swagger and rebellious attitude. It bookends the EP with a snippet of speech: ‘…a corporate arrangement of limbs and organs held together by it’s material support’ - also a good metaphor for the human, organic feeling that the lo-fi approach evokes.
The one-two punch of ‘Spahnners (Rubble Dub 2)’ & the accompanying remix from man-of-the-moment Tuff Sherm however provides the real backbone of the EP. The former’s intricately layered march of white-noise percussion and muttering vocalisations are submerged under it’s central bass-drone, balancing it’s intentionally anaemic mixdown with delicate, mournful chords that bring to mind early Autechre. The approach is less obviously ‘heavy’ than previous Hound Scales, and hints at new levels of psycho-acoustic depth to his work – an understanding that Techno shouldn’t only kill via repetitive bludgeoning. Programming the two tracks to be neighbours on the EP was an inspired touch – the ending of the first runs so smoothly into the opening chords of the second, that it feels like a reprisal. Sherm adds a hefty barrel of a kick; new melodic layers; cheekier swing; an unpredictable, alternating structure. Choosing TS for the remix was another effective choice – both artists are currently mining similar furrows & there is a gleeful feeling of one-upmanship to his effort.
As ever with Hound Scales & Fifth Wall, the non-musical aesthetics are a scrambled mush of signifiers and allusions, including the title which refers to a pulpy sub-genre of Japanese exploitation-films within the ero guro tradition (erotic-grotesque); and the charming trademark that is Scale’s affinity with bracketed sub-titling when naming tracks. In all there is a growing deftness of construction, the addition of extra dimensions for Hound Scales to explore. That the EP contains stylistic divergence within it’s tracks, whilst retaining an overall feeling of cohesion, is the mark of an artist growing in both confidence and maturity.
Words by James Rogers.
Lumisokea // Eavesdropping on Pianists
Release Date: 01/07/2014
Lumisokea’s latest offering brings together features of Europe’s past and future, comprised of sounds made by the innovative and futuristic ‘noise machines’ that Russian Engineerist Vladimer Popov designed in the early 20th Century. The Italian/Belgian duo recontextualise these bizarre acoustic sounds into highly charged tapestries of sound that are contemporary in style and antique in texture.
Lumisokea curiously describe their work as “research into rhythm, synthesis and electro-acoustics”, rather than something primarily creative. This is an almost analytic and scientific notion of sound design, and this sense of ‘research’ rings true with much of their work, which focuses on industrial sounds and an achingly meticulous placement of percussion. This comes through perhaps most strikingly on ‘The Engineerist’, which opens the EP. Despite the organic and animate feel this track possesses, there are undeniably artificial elements to it as well, leaving the listener in awe of its complex inner workings. Where Shackleton goes to extraordinary lengths to ‘analogise’ digitally created beats, Lumisokea do the opposite, digitising and modernising traditional tones from over a century ago.
The middle of the EP takes the sound to an eerier and more distant setting, showcasing the duo’s ability to create rich and immersive aural pictures. Littered throughout the EP there are also semblances of ultra-modern synthesizers, verging on the sort that one would find in the darker subgenres of Drum & Bass such as Neurofunk and Techstep. In particular, ‘Rhythmicon’ compliments its jigsaw-like polyrhythms with unearthly rumbles and pulses, concluding the EP with an unmistakable contemporary finish.
This EP is in part tribute to the progressive spirit of the Soviet inventors and composers who, despite social, political and economic hardship revolutionised the way in which music was created and heard. Lumisokea pay ample homage to this tradition, and leave the listener with many questions unanswered; how was it recorded, edited and performed? How were they programmed, how does one even ‘go about’ writing music like this given its complexity and nuance? It’s rare to find music that genuinely perplexes, but Lumisokea perplex with poise.
Words by George McVicar.