Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Vinyl and Digital Reviews: Sleeparchive, Tim Healey and Kidstatik / Sarcastic

Artist: Sleeparchive
Title: Ronan Point
Label: Tresor Records

Sleeparchive has always been held as an underground hero by techno artists, but has never taken up much of the spotlight, meanwhile other artists play stadiums with sounds based on his. Of course Tresor are delighted to have him onboard - he wrote the bible on minimal techno, providing the framework for many years to come. He became an artist’s artist - favoured amongst the producers but not necessarily the masses. Sleeparchive’s ‘Ronan Point’ release comes as a strong reminder of how to carve subtle swathes of sub-bass. Opening with ‘Ronan Point One’, throbbing bass through distortion is connected by unnerving loops and bleeps, creating a tense sensation of waiting in a foreboding hospital room, and the hypnotic quality of ‘Ronan Point Two’ has you nodding before you realise, moving along with the dark and bulging bassline. The constant thrum of machinery that embodies ‘Ronan Point Three’ creates a feeling of pressure, before you’re transported to the submarine sonar and pulses of ‘Ronan Point Four’; it’s like minimal techno’s anthropological father showing the children how to craft relentless beats.

Release date: 16th May 2011

Artist: Tim Healey
Title: Rest In Beats
Label: Surfer Rosa

Electro-house fans will have noticed that it’s been several years since a Tim Healey LP, but now he returns in June with ‘Rest in Beats’, already scoring points amongst the music press. The tone is first set by Peep Show actor Matt King who plays Super Hans; a non-starter, crack-head musician. A church organ intro is narrated by King in the style of a reverent eulogy, describing Healey’s fictitious death through the “demise of recorded music product”, in what seems to be a simultaneous dig at worldwide falling music revenues. Perhaps just a little galling to future buyers of the LP! It’s amusing nonetheless, and the slate is wiped clean by ‘Live it Love it’ featuring SirReal and produced with Tomcraft, twisting and turning melodies through warped electronica and electro house with a dangerous edge to the bassline, which is further teased out on ‘Rock It Roll It’. This time working with Calvertron, SirReal and Pippa Trix, there’s a booty pop encouragement on a dubstep / dancehall tip, running with the kind of sounds Katy B is currently edging out, but the bass-heavy dancehall overcomes, effectively telling the lighter, future garage sounds to get to fuck.

SirReal (Freestylers/Pendulum) appears frequently across the LP, supplying his voice as a muse and carrier, adding a dash more attitude to the Justice-esque ‘Take Control’ with Atomic Drop, and making you think that Dizzee Rascal missed a trick by collaborating with Calvin Harris rather than someone like Gary Numan on ‘Believe Him’ with Marc Adamo.

Pippa Trix is also a frequent vocal collaborator, but a delve into the web reveals little about her; ‘Rest in Beats’ seems to be her professional debut and she’s been taken under Healey’s management wing as a new artist for his arsenal. In total she guests on five tracks, lending her voice to ‘Dance The Tear Away’ with Pete Martin, spiking hints of electro-duo The Dragonettes, and performing what could be a ‘David Guetta+female vocalist’ hit on the funky electro ‘Loving You’ with Tomcraft. ‘Tempting to Touch’ featuring Pippa and Top Cat is a potential modern dancehall hit, and you can see why it’s being released on the cusp of summer - it would be good to see this one released as a summer single. The weightier electro synths of ‘Resistance’ featuring Freqhouse are balanced by the vocals of Loc-E and Pippa Trix for a straight up house groove.

Other artists to appear include Kirsty Sillars for the remake of the Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’, which is rather reminiscent of late 90s USA rock, and Manners on one of the LP highlights, ‘Mars Boudoir’, carrying Sneaker Pimp idiosyncrasies while coming across as a laidback grime - liking the rave drones on this. Dean Van Jones lays down funny and modern spoken word for ‘Tommy Finn’, managing to compress mortgage payments, consolidated loans, the fall of a stripper, and drivers on Temazepan into one discourse, highlighted by Healey’s loungy, latin electro that conjures images of a mobster rocking through Miami sun. I think people still underestimate the power of spoken word on beats; points to Healey for balancing textual content with image-evoking tunes.

‘Rest in Beats’ is a blend of hip-hop, dancehall, future garage, flashes of dubstep and grime, soulful voices, and above all, electro house, with a few gems waiting to descend on the dancefloor - the early success in the charts is proof so far.

Release date: June 2011

Artist: Kidstatik / Sarcastic
Title: Remains
Label: Standard

‘Remains’ is a a three track 12” featuring DJ Sarcastic’s ‘Green Lantern At The OK Corral’, and two servings from Kidstatik aka Tony Roma, one of Montreal’s forerunning techno DJs, and not the pioneer of baby back ribs as initial internet searches may reveal. It kicks off with Kidstatik’s ‘Timing Space’, a slab of hard minimal that would go down well on the UK scene, chugging along under the strength of the muted bassline; it had me thinking of the movement of Yello’s infamous ‘Oh Yeah’ bassline. Layers of bongos and Detroit synth stabs mixed with whitenoise fuzz drones on the breakdown make for a good head-nodder. On the flip-side ‘Analog Slices’ is a totally different beast, juggling beats and percussion in a throbbing, tribalistic manner, and had me in mind of Plastikman’s ‘Spastik’, rumbling through the subs. This is meant for serious dancefloors; wipe those smiles off and dance like mean it, dance like you want to exorcise a demon - pretend the piercingly high strings are its death throes!

The three-track release ends with Sarcastic’s ‘Green Lantern At The OK Corral’: I’ve been hearing a lot more medical type themes in techno in recent times - sub-bass like heart beats, and high pitched monitor bleeps: last year people raved about techno moving to organic sounds, now it sounds like techno is moving from organic to anatomical monitoring. This is a slice of experimental dub-techno with some nice little shuffles under the rhythmic throbs: the ideas are sound but it comes off as a bit too close to Burial emulation. The track develops a groovin’ coherence as it progresses, assaulted by the sounds of a crackling and insistent synth pulling on the sleeve of dub-techno and asking to be part of the experiment.

Release date: Out now 

Available to buy

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