Label: Unknown To The Unknown
Release Date: 03/03/2014
Unknown to the Unknown: the scribbling-on-the walls with a crayon, Pokemon-card-stealing, attention-deficit kid of UK dance music. Their YouTube channel is a treasure trove of smushed together 90’s signifiers – all dance workout videos, N64 graphics and spliff-rolling mickey-mouse hands. DJ Haus’ label gobbles up everything it can find and spits it out an alarming rate; alarming, not because of the speed of the turnover, but because DJ Haus clearly has such a keen knack for unearthing artists sharing his own irreverent attitude. Talented revivalists with fresh perspective, unafraid to dust off and reassemble genres long thought stale – DJ Q’s brightly coloured speed garage; Murlo’s Nickelodeon-via-Mozart dancehall & grime; spaced out intergalactic house wayfarer Legowelt and UR’s own Detroit-electro assassin DJ Stingray to name a few. The resulting music is often as disorienting as the labels media approach – and equally as often it hits that sweet spot between body moving and brain melting.
Irish producer Eomac - one half of excellent cerebral Techno duo Lakker, and here working as EeOo, announces his induction to UTTU’s ranks in fine style. Taking all the ingredients of your standard 90’s breakbeat rave cookbook – but crucially misremembering the actual cooking instructions, the Workout EP serves up a dish that’s as messy as it is delicious. The tracks bulge under the weight of recycled Beltram hoovers & yo-yoing Sawtooth glissando, with any remaining frequency gaps shored up by white noise percussion. The approach is maximalist in the extreme: every musical layer appears to be locked in a death-struggle with its immediate neighbour. It takes a lot of chops to be able to pull off this approach and not have the whole thing crumbling under its own weight – perhaps it is the subtle detail that is also present – for instance the morphing nature of the parts or the tiny individual sounds which add character and depth.
There are touchstones; but they are exactly that – jumping off points to propel the tracks into ever-greater rhythmic contortions and darker moods. For instance the middle section of ‘Calc’ references that moody, super-swung fast-garage/dubstep aesthetic of the early Hessle releases; the Zomby-esque drunk synth-blip arpeggios on ‘We Are All The Same’s; ‘Battery Baby’ with its demented growling electro bassline and relatively straightforward house beat completely at odds with the madness swirling all around it. Perhaps the freshest track on the EP is ‘Workout’ – mashing up a slow jersey club beat with oddly funky splashes of white noise, moody chromatic bleeps, a tunnelling, oscillating bassline, and (of course) plastic cowbell: it really feels like nothing else. At times the intensity of the noise makes the track hard to listen to – I’ve no idea how well something so boldly noisy might go down in a club – but maybe that’s missing the point. Taken as a whole, the Workout EP sees Eomac cutting loose and engaging his creative process with a delightfully flippant brashness – exorcising the ‘serious’ Techno and exploring new combinations of dance signifiers in a stylistically exciting way.