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22 Aug 11
Review: Have bass producers revitalised techno? It might seem like a strange question, but consider the evidence. Cosmin TRG has shifted gradually from dubstep and D&B, in the process releasing his best material for Rush Hour and 50 Weapons. Shifted used to be a drum'n'bass producer and now applies the looseness and low end expertise he picked up in his previous incarnation to ensure his current work doesn't fall foul of rigidity. To push this argument further, it is also true that the existence of bass music has inspired techno producers to make their grooves more stepping - witness everything from Kalon's "Born Against" through parts of the Frozen Border catalogue and Peter Van Hoesen's most recent single, "North 6th". This ongoing cross-fertilisation is audible on the latest [Naked Lunch] release, a label which, more than any other has inadvertently succeeded in muddying the waters. Boddika's "Grand Prix" bears some resemblance to the current wave of Chicago-inspired tracks but it's the woozy bass underscoring the arrangement that really makes it stand out. Accompanied by insidious bleeps and some deft break beats, it's like a breath of fresh air for those worn out by retro-tribute releases. It's not all one-way traffic though, and the label has recruited Skudge to remix Instra:mental's "Vicodin". Based on a similar structure to Boddika's contribution, this time swarming chords rather than the bass that has the requisite effect, as the Swedish duo dive bomb with menacing, swoops.
26 Apr 10
Played by: Juno Download, Catz N Dogz / 3 Channels, Wire Magazine, DJ Cure (Aufect Recordings), Instra:mental
Review: Naked Lunch unleash two effortlessly cool, idiosyncratic productions from Instra:mental. "Let's Talk/Vicodin" are two slow and atmospheric tracks that bridge the modern day gap between dubstep, house, techno and drum & bass.
Last year's anthem, "Watching You" was an innovative slice of future dubstep that brought the production duo of Instra:mental to the attention of many. Since then they have had releases on Exit, Apple Pips and their own NonPlus+ imprint in addition to mixing a Fabriclive compilation. "Let?s Talk" is an ocean deep, slow burning crossover between house and dubstep. It utilises the warm, clicky tone of the constant kick drum that penetrates the atmospheric soundscape of background chime and tension building static. Echoed melody snatches and pulsing synthesized bass stabs create an ominous sense of foreboding that is heightened by the somewhat unsettling, down-pitched vocals. The sheen from the pads give the track a calmness that makes it sound even more menacing.
On the flip, "Vicodin" picks up the tempo as the duo indulge their dubstep palette once more. Keeping their futurist sentiments in hand, they keep the sound unique and fresh with some intricate percussion and beatless structure. Wrapped around thumping sub bass and Detroit styled piano chords, this is an atmospheric stepper that moves with a fluid arrangement for the deepest part of the night.
19 Dec 11
Review: The latest release form Irish label [Naked Lunch] sees Instra:mental's Jon Convex deliver two tracks of pounding ghetto house influenced techno. "Pop That P", which this writer assumes is a reference to a lady's private parts, features a monotonous vocal repeating the track title. It stops short of the kind of lyrical filth that a ghetto maestro like Funk is capable of, yet its bassline is more distorted and its rhythm looser and more rolling than the original sound. "Your Mind (Or Mine)?" is even more interesting as it sees Convex dispense with the obvious or understated obscenities - the vocals are relegated to a mere muffle - and deploy an equally distorted, murky bass. However, instead of the trademark kettle drums, he uses a shuffling electro 808. This adds a new dimension to the sound and suggests that in the same way as Larry Heard and Virgo 4 have enjoyed a rebirth, the time might be right for Chicago's rawest sound to be re-awoken.
29 Apr 13
Review: After time well spent roaming across labels such as WNCL, Idle Hands and Brainmath, Kevin McPhee returns to his starting point of [NakedLunch] with a new grip of tracks that display an artist still exploring new avenues for his sound to maraud down. "Version One" kicks off on two minutes of bizarre melody that profoundly hides its tempo until everything pauses for a solid house beat to take hold, making for an eye-opening vision of singular groove. "It's What She Wants" is uncompromising in a wholly different way, pumping and clunking on a productive factory of percussion before the less-than-obvious appropriation of R&B vocal comes loping into the mix. "P1:P2" is positively conventional by comparison, but it's no straight up house cut by any regular stretch with its own unique metallic clang and a decisive switch up into more melodic territory for the later part of the EP.
08 Aug 11
Played by: 2562 / A Made Up Sound
Review: This release for [Naked Lunch] serves as something of a definitive stance for Kowton, placing his sound between house and garage dynamics. Where his earlier tracks were draped in sinister drones and melodic absences, title track "Keep Walking" grooves along with a positively content, Metro Area kind of cheekiness. "Show Me" plumbs a steppier duct, as a house tempo gets invaded by skipping claps and hats. The hushed female snippet of, "c'mon," embellishes an overall creepiness, seemingly inviting you to a place you know you shouldn't go to, but want to visit all the same. Excellent release.
09 Apr 12
Played by: Vegim, Tom Central, Shadow Dancer, Alkalino, Juno Recommends Techno, The Legendary 1979 Orchestra
Review: Soul:R boss and all round drum and bass legend Marcus Intalex's Trevino moniker has been used previously by Kaye on a split release with Instra:mental for Martyn's 3024 label, but the two tracks on this purple ten inch are much more in line with Al Bleek's material for [Naked Lunch], adopting a rhythmic poise and sound palette that leans heavily on the mid 90s bass heavy techno sound of LFO. "Buried" is the deeper of the two, building nicely from sparse percussive beginnings into a fully formed procession of warm, kaleidoscopic chords and bubbling analogue undercurrents. Those craving something darker will revel in the heady jacking brilliance of "Derelict" which betrays his D&B history via the deviant bassline twist.
17 Sep 12
Played by: Juno Recommends Dubstep
Review: Although he may have decamped into the world of techno now, at one point (Cosmin) TRG was setting minds on fire with a crisp and fresh take on 2-step, as is perfectly demonstrated on this long overdue digital issue of a classic [NakedLunch] release. "Generation" rips out of your speakers with an instant impact that lays waste to so much of the trite dubstep-inspired material that has come since, melding vibing chords with a rock-solid swagger of rhythm, while "Soho Girls" comes on like Akufen ballroom dancing with Horsepower to an unforgettable end. That leaves it to Breakage to rework "Generation" into a spacious stepper of classic build.