Release Date: 29/06/2015
Where many bemoan the monotony of modern electronic music, SM - LL reclaim it under clear unambiguous manifesto for the label’s sound: ‘We Like Repetition’. Their name, too — a truncation of ‘Sm(a)ll Fish in a Big Pond’ — is ideologically antithetical in its opposition to the predominant musical sphere, focusing exclusively on the niche and estranged. This is what keeps SM - LL constantly interesting and long overdue for recognition. Their latest release, ‘Batch 0000′ follows in this tradition, and comes from R.E.C, a duo based in Copenhagen.
We spoke with R.E.C earlier in the week who described their project as something that “circulate[s] around a concept of raw and constantly evolving sounds”. This particular record can be seen as something of a departure from previous SM - LL output, as there is an undeniable dancefloor focus this time around. Whether it’s the frantic analogue bleeps of side A or the scratchy shuffle of B, both tracks sound like a modern techno record, but one that has been stripped of all it’s superfluous elements. Without the typical hallmarks of a traditional dancefloor record, the listener is invited to rethink the more exciting aspects of techno again, and let them blossom within a new sphere.
It takes a few listens to realise that side B is actually the inverted, deformed cousin of side A. For the 12” itself, each side is cut at different speeds, which therefore means that there is altogether the potential for four versions of one track to be played. The end of each track, too, has a nihilistic conclusion, as we hear the tape recorder “dying and literally breaking”. This brings to mind the medium-is-the-message ethos of Christian Marclay’s abstract turntablism. Marclay’s work focuses on the supplementary qualities that a vinyl record can afford; the crackles and pops, the pitch bends, even the sound one makes when snapped in two. Back in 2005, Marclay wrote about vinyl in an interview with the Guardian;
“[i]f the music in a groove fits with what you’re playing, then play it; if not, then you can play it backwards. If that doesn’t work, you try it at a different speed. If it really doesn’t work you just break it”.
The record is also limited to just 17 copies, and each comes with a three-word etching of your choice; keeping the notion of a collector’s edition well and truly alive. In essence, what I think both Marclay and R.E.C are hoping to achieve is something like a shift in perspective about the materiality of music. ‘Batch 0000’ is not merely just a recording of a performance, but an object of creative manipulation itself. This time, however, the collector’s edition is not a static antique, but something that can be stretched, distorted, warped, cut and fucked with as much as desired.