Fluxion // Broadwalk Tales
Format: 2x12” / CD / Digital
Release Date: 26/04/2014
To say Athenian producer Kastos Soublis aka Fluxion had been around for a while would be something of an understatement. Having released his early work through the 1990s via the legendary Chain Reaction imprint, over the last few years Danish label Echocord has hosted the bulk of Soublis’ output, which seems fitting as one of the leading dub-techno imprints currently in operation. The latest offering Broadwalk Tales is no different, and comes at an interesting time, following last year’s reissue of Soublis’ compiled formative works, Vibrant Forms.
The fact Broadwalk Tales was intended as a long-player from its inception is clear. The addition of Teddy Selassie’s sultry vocals make the record a more expansive yet equally more cohesive listening experience, without losing any of the ethereal, leftfield appeal which made Vibrant Forms so special. This said, the effectiveness of Selassie’s inclusion on the LP comes from the fact vocals are used sparingly, easing in and out of Soublis’ haze of dub, reggae and techno influences.
‘Everyday’ for example glides across booming percussion, Selassie periodically adding to Soublis’ spellbinding melodies, with echoing, faintly melancholic outcries. ‘Change’ is another track to feature fairly prominent use of vocals, yet here they are warped and stuttered by Soublis, off-beat chimes and jaunty percussion snowballing into a stumbling reggae groove.
In between these moments however the LP remains fairly instrumental. The drowsy, introspective pulse of ‘Ascent’ or the misty chords buffeting against one another through ‘The Steps’ make good examples of the power Soublis holds through his solo ventures on the album. The shimmering ‘Celestia’ is another illustration of this, and arguably one of Broadwalk Tales finest moments; subtle developments, warm, immersive synthwork and thickset, shuffled rhythms make for a hypnotic, inviting listen.
Compared with his prior output, Broadwalk Tales feels broader and more inclusive in its use of dub & reggae elements, absorbing these in a way which manages to keep a common thread with Soublis’ sound. The LP also does a fine job of exploring the link techno specifically has with dub & reggae music, whilst still being as captivating a listen as any of Soublis’ back-catalogue.
Words by Theo Darton-Moore.
Derek Piotr // Tempatempat
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 05/05/2014
New England based sound artist Derek Piotr has set Indonesian music at the heart of his latest album, Tempatempat. The title, ‘an Indonesian word chosen for its repetition and meaning’ can either mean ‘forging place’ or ‘fourth place’, depending on how you break the word, which is a good preview of the sonic vision that lies ahead. In his fourth album, Piotr fuses Indonesian music with his electronic and vocal background, honing the elements into a beautiful, exciting set of tracks.
Tempatempat falls perfectly into place as soon as the opener, “Bhadrakali”, starts: at the drop of a low drum, catchy rhythms spring forward. Static surrounds this steady pulse like river water; think a field recording filled with glitches, only the glitches and buzzes all happen in time. It’s entrancing— gamelan sounds mix in and Piotr sings Indonesian melodies through a slightly warped, gently distorted filter. The track grows more melodic as Gendèr (Indonesian metallophone) sounds out descending scales, which make for a comforting comeback throughout the album.
Piotr’s work has always been focused on vocals; this can be seen in “Rift”, a track produced entirely using his voice. In this track, Piotr seems to almost ignore Western music theory; his multi-layered vocals collide with each other, over and over in a series of dissonance. It’s unsettling, but never unbearable – the relentless development of the track holds your attention, background static in restlessly puncturing the cascading vocal lines.
The glitch aesthetic manifests best in “Terminal”, which begins with deep bass hits, a glitchy, sparse background offsetting another set of dissonant vocals. Rapid percussion skips like a broken record, creating a dizzying ferocity that showcases the album’s two best qualities: Piotr’s innovative vocal manipulation and obsession with electronic noise.
Piotr is unafraid to use whatever sounds he finds intriguing; this leads to his work being labelled as experimental. But Tempatempat is unexpectedly accessible— the fearless exploration of timbre and harmony never leaves you bored, and the meticulous production and structure always leaves something for you to hold onto without being overwhelmed. The album’s quiet moments are just as entrancing: “Stay” slowly pulls flat vocal lines into the track until they’re stretched for minutes at a time, the landscape ever expanding. In Tempatempat, a voice will drone on for two minutes, or a phrase will be cut into tiny fragments and scattered all over the track. This is a versatile and gripping album.
Words by Rena Minegishi.