In today’s contemporary clubs, we find fragmented, sporadic, acclerationist music. We find music with squeaky clean pop vocal samples, cartoonish sound effects and mashed-up sound collage. These are sounds with a social conscience attached to them: made to represent & critique our diminishing attention spans and insatiable need for speed. When our anxiety surrounding Internet depersonalisation and late capitalism gets too much to bear, we turn to Pan, Janus and NON to parody our world and offer spiritual release.
But there is also an undercurrent of bedroom producers who are representing our current situation in a different way. Instead of extreme fragmentation and pop parody, sound is reduced to its bare, raw waveform elements. Listen, for example, to the releases of SM-LL or Conditional. Here, you find a new, though no less recognisable, expression of our zeitgeist: one that is endlessly repetitious, to the point of madness. Anyone who has worked in the most tedious of today’s work — factory work, office work — can identify with the droll monotony of PiL or Throbbing Gristle. Their live performances are listless plods towards the last syllable of recorded time. But today’s monotony is electric. Sameness manifests through copy & paste, loop and sequence.
One such bedroom producer, tuuun aka Stephen McEvoy, comes from this tradition. In his own words, the tuuun project represents an “attempt at tying together lots of different things: techno, rave, repetition, minimalism, elasticity, noise and lots else besides.” McEvoy continues, “I want to use these influences as entry points into sound and music, take them in new directions, and hopefully come up with something exciting. I make a lot of my music through just jamming and improvising in a playful way, and really enjoy just putting down a couple of sounds and letting them talk to each other, and try to have fun with that.”
McEvoy has also just launched a new label, FLUF, to release a wide range of these new experiments. “FLUF is really an extension of my own personality”, he goes on. “Light-hearted but deadly serious at the same time.” This is certainly true: tuuun is not music you can dance to, but it’s also not music without a sense of humour. “I try not to have any preconceived ideas about what the sound of FLUF is, because invariably someone will send me some crazy music that I love, and I’ll want to put it out, which will drag FLUF in directions that I could not have imagined.”
The name ‘FLUF’ suggests all filler no killer, but this must be an in-joke of some kind, because is the music is anything but. Their latest series takes on the ‘AA’ format: 2 tracks, each the mirror image of the other. Absolutely no ‘fluff’ to be found here. McEvoy continues: “It’s a really great outlet for me to work with other people, and I feel that once you put out some music with an artist, you have a shared bond that feels quite special. Originally, I intended FLUF as a way of just putting out my own music, but it’s recently started to grow beyond that, which is really exciting for me.” And growing it is, as they have just released their third EP this month.
When I first asked McEvoy about doing a mix, he explained that he is “most definitely not a DJ” and doesn’t listen to enough music “to justify a proper mix”. Instead, we have been treated to something a lot more interesting: a recording of a live-set. “I love performing live, it’s the most fun I can have as a musician, as I get to be playful with my sounds in a more long-form way, but with the added pressure of trying to keep it cohesive as a whole. It’s a really enjoyable kind of challenge”. Listen below.