Maurice Fulton has long been once of electronic music’s most intriguing mavericks. Capable of producing both straightforward dancefloor gold and thrilling leftfield oddities, he seems determined to communicate entirely through the medium of music. His steadfast desire to sidestep publicity – interviews are a rarity – and do things his own way has helped create a mystique around his productions that undoubtedly serves him well.
His tendency to just release things with barely a word of warning is kind of endearing, too. This new album from his long-dormant Syclops project is a good case in point. Although it will appear on vinyl and CD later in the year via the excellent Running Back imprint, it’s dropping first digitally on his own Bubbletease Communications imprint. Until it appeared in the “coming soon” listings, few knew he’d even been recording a Syclops set, let alone that it would be coming out.
A Blink Of An Eye
Given the amount of empty hype surrounding music today, there’s something admirable about Fulton’s refreshingly no-nonsense approach. There’s also the added thrill of hearing new Syclops material, something Fulton-watchers have been waiting patiently for since the release of the I’ve Got My Eye On You album on DFA in 2008. Of all of Fulton’s many and varied projects, nothing sets the pulse racing quite like Syclops. While his disco-flecked work under his own name is usually solid, you sometimes get the impression that he’s concentrating on form and function, holding back his creative urges. The jazzy, far-sighted deepness of his Boof material – last heard on the excellent Sssh, Dandelions At Play LP – is a little looser, but lacks the full-throttle madness and improvised feel associated with classic Syclops cuts such as “Where’s Jason’s K”, “Mom, The Video Broke” and “The Fly”.
You could hardly accuse Fulton of holding back on The Blink of An Eye. The first album of all-new Syclops material (I’ve Got My Eye On You was a retrospective with a sprinkling of new cuts), it’s as good an example of the potential of Fulton’s far-sighted vision as anything he’s released to date. Although rhythmically it touches on skittering machine funk and off-kilter acid jack, it has much more common with freestyle electronic jazz than straight-up house. At times, it’s loose and languid, such as the fluid Boof-ish “5 In” which playfully fuses angular drum machine rhythms with jazz hits and twinkling pianos. At others, such as the brain-melting mixture of slack live snares, twisted electronic riffs and tumbling disco bongos that forms “Jump Bugs”, it’s puffed-up and in-your face.
A Blink Of An Eye contains those moments of unhinged dancefloor brilliance we’ve come to expect from Fulton, chief among them “Sarah’s E with Extra P”. This is a track that Fulton has been teasing his fans with for far too long – first surfacing on the radar via YouTube footage from a Fulton and Theo Parrish back to back set at the Liquid Room in Tokyo midway through 2010. It’s a formidable mutant acid-jacker that somehow manages to shoehorn in jaunty Latin pianos, cowbells and lashings of teeth-grating electro noises. The results are magnificent, fully deserving of the rapturous applause in that video, and the track is likely to become as highly regarded as the triumphant “Where’s Jason’s K”, both potent examples of Fulton’s ability to create tough, out-there dancefloor tracks with uplifting moments of intense beauty.
Similarly minded is “Michele’s H with C”, another excuse to throw together carnival-inspired percussion with jazz piano flourishes, woozy chords and mutant jack rhythm tracks. It’s not all balls-out, shouting at the moon madness, though. There’s a lot more to A Blink Of An Eye than that. Take the simmering, loose-limbed beauty of “Karo’s B” – all darting next-level synths, long pads and hissing cymbals – or the cascading electronic jazz sweetness of the title track; both tracks are expertly constructed and well thought-out, delivering an atmospheric, intoxicating riposte to the album’s more robust moments.