Nina Kraviz, Bjarki, Exos, PTU, Biogen, Roma Zuckerman, Nikita Zabelin, Shadowax, Universal Indicator, Pilldriver
трип 20 - Don't Mess With Cupid, Cos Cupid Ain't Stupid
трип Records (Trip)
TBR: 20th July
A ten track concept album marks the twentieth release for the underground powerhouse that is трип. Combining an alchemy of new and old with the glue of transcendental phenomena, Don't Mess With Cupid explores the world of underground electronic sounds in a grand tour of the label's reputable rota. The double EP release is becoming something of a tradition for this impress, much more than a selection record and with a reach a single artist album can only dream of, each musician can provide a true experience in turn.
From shadowy beginnings in the 90s where underground technophiles would compile tricky beats and complex dub loops, to modern era digital wonderworks that utilize the twenty-first century to its pinnacle, the release covers each base one by one. It begins with Biogen and a track called Hexagraphic. A retro pulsing metallic thump kicks it off and its soon joined by a dancing digital tune which two or three steps in rapid formations. More phonics are added, this time from lower ends of the sound spectrum. Digital bass and treble wave in on strange clouds of distortion. Frantic energy seeps in through little gaps and the music revs up into a new gear when a snare loop fills them in with rhythm.
A woob sound with a wobbly bass pinches the end of the track to reveal the next number. Funky dance worthy drums replace the strange phrase and with happy and distant runs down a simple keyboard, a jovial sensation rolls over. New found bass and drum progresses the original sunny section to envisage tall rocky cliffs and mountains, with a shore on the other side of our periphery. Some smooth vocal expressions briefly decorate the rhythm before it breaks down to the strange keyboard runs that pierce and laugh. Castor and Polux by PTU doesn't last too long, it quickly makes way for the final A side.
With DEKA and Pearl, a fast bass tone projects a fantastic driving force. With relentless thrust, a build in amplitude of a heavy bass drum gives each subsequent section more kick. Soon a computerised fill brings an epic and space-age moment of “pay attention!” before the same rhythm gradually evolves and shifts in quality from one ear to the other. Dark rooms with lights, dry ice, and sweaty people all dancing in time to this seems the only logical outcome for this soundtrack to a dazed and memorable night out.
Welcome to level two, some of that retro grit has been taken away as a wholesome drum loop with an offbeat snare brings a new energy of experimental simplicity. Soon the drums add more of themselves to allow a full-on sensation of flow which gives rise to a trilling siren style instrument at the top end. One-two, one-two, goes the insistent alarm. We can allow it to rage on or we can stand up and move to its fluid yet stable instruction. Grasshunter by Exos plays with beats and energy with ever changing mixes of the same rhythms, each taking their place in the driving seat to see how the others react. Everything flows well and with well chosen variety of tone, the track remains fresh through-out.
Bjarki brings an ethnic flurry of fantasy and mayhem as they open with 3-1 tap lush. A smooth and jazzy beat with extra speed added allows the strangeness to sit comfortably. As the drums whittle down to the minimum, an oddly organic vocal effect made from the back of the throat begins to spin an eerie melody. A strike from a symphonic keyboard smashes it all together in a punch of pressure, then like a trampoline the music rebounds into more bouncy tempo rich experiences. Around ¾ of the way through, everything shifts as a cymbal slices through the top layers of the mix. In short bursts it collapses the music like a paper fan bringing everything to a close.
The first C-side number enters on an echoing bass drum that throws itself into every corner of the room. Massive speed and mind-blowing velocity added with thumps of distorted sludge in time to the thrust make one huge sound sensation. As the waveforms are adjusted and peak in their neatly arranged triangles of pitch, the sound evolves and flows as new ever-changing tangents are inserted into the mix. Continual subtle shifts in expressive intent bring the repeating rhythm through cyclic motions that reveal multiple sides to this high energy track. Pitchhiker by Pilldriver does precisely what it says on the label.
I Want To Be A Stewardess by Shadowax slows it down to something that pricks the ears and digs deep into mysterious sonics. Soon, though, a rhythm emerges from the choppy digital ocean and as more layers in the form of vocals lay over the top, a throbbing loop based sound experience ensues. As calm drum tones add sprinkles of delicate timing, heavy vocal lines wrap human form around the structure like a warm blanket. Perhaps each repetition of the lines in the loop represents the job of a stewardess, performing a routine for each customer to make sure no-one feels left out. The trippy sensations that come hand in hand with this track keep the party going, perhaps another calm before a storm moment is in progress.
As the final C side suddenly plunged into high velocity hardcore style drums, with slow but sure twisting of the dials no-doubt, we reach the final installation on this quadruple sided album to hit the pinnacle of the evening. D1 is a track by Universal Indicator. 15 c7 may be an odd title, however this is an arguably odd record label. A weird digital rhythm with a low pitched squeak and drum in sporadic motions brings it on to the full. Pitch shifting energy wraps the sound in one direction then the other, and we're asked to go crazy on the floor. It soon condenses out into a more uniform high impulse number of tone, drum, and sideways sonic effects.
A subtle bass tone replaces the maniac rhythms of the previous number and sounds of the ocean curl over and nestle in the flow. Seagulls squawk over-head and waves splash adjacent to our earshot. As the slow bass changes its pitch in gradual watery bursts, a slow tune begins to poke its head from the spray. Digital pulses and bleeps make interesting bubble pop like sections and the rhythm of the waves keeps all things calm. Zero by Roma Zuckerman seems to ground us, and make room for recent thoughts to stretch in our minds. The EP ends with an insertion by the label's owner, Nina Kraviz. Opa smashes the boundaries on cross rhythmic mechanical dance, confusing the DJ and giving everyone else a really good time. Going out with massive number like this seems to be the order of the day at any decent party.
An evening in a box, this double EP allows us to remember the roots of the electronic music sound and craft an understanding of its evolution into the technical and compositional fairground that it is today.
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Rowan Blair Colver for the Homunculus Media Group
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