Whatever you think about the notion of the hard-core continuum, there is no doubt that the electro sound pioneered by Detroit artists Cybotron, Drexciya and Aux 88 has proved to have longevity; earlier this month, this writer witnessed arguably the greatest protagonist of this music form, Gerald Donald, perform an hour’s worth of sparkling yet robotic Arpanet tracks to a rammed Dublin warehouse, while a few weeks earlier, the latest Versalife record Rate of Change appeared on Frustrated Funk.
Amsterdam based label Indigo Aera have revealed details of a four-part series focusing on unreleased material from those close to the label, with the first 12″ featuring tracks from Skudge and Different World.
Detroit’s Jared Wilson will add Skudge Presents to his impressive roster of releases this year with the forthcoming A Little Moonlight Dancing – get a taste here.
There’s no doubt that there’s been an excellent resurgence in quality techno lately, with past masters embracing new directions as much as the fresh talent coming through. From the broken magnificence of Perc or the Stroboscopic Artefacts roster to the ever-captivating energy of Robert Hood, via acts such as James Ruskin and Ben Sims updating their approaches while maintaining their principles, it’s a good time for tougher music in the 130 bpm region.
Skudge Records are offering a freebie in the shape of of Rivet’s ‘Analogue Freemix’ of his recently release “Sundry” – download inside.
We have tickets to give away to Untold’s forthcoming appearance at Fabric, along with vinyl copies of his Change In A Dynamic Environment series.
This release had the potential to become the essence of underground techno in 2012, with a masked producer releasing a record on a label set by another shadowy duo. The reality however, is markedly different, with Rivet delivering a veritably playful release. “Sundry” starts life sounding like a Frozen Border/Horizontal Ground jam, its sheets of metallic rhythms suggesting austerity is on the way. That’s not how it pans out though, and sun-kissed, mournful chords insinuate themselves into the supple groove, coming across like the middle ground between Phil Mison’s deep house and Detroit’s introspection.
Boddika’s Nonplus imprint has revealed details of forthcoming releases from Basic Soul Unit and Skudge.
Swedish duo Skudge are offering a recent live set recorded deep in the bowels of Berlin’s Berghain club for free download.
Canadian techno talent Rivet is the latest name to arise on the increasingly impressive Skudge Presents label with the forthcoming 12″ Grifter.
Have bass producers revitalised techno? It might seem like a strange question, but consider the evidence. Cosmin TRG has shifted gradually from dubstep and drum and bass, in the process releasing his best material for Rush Hour and 50 Weapons. Rumours abound that Shifted used to be a D&B producer, and the person behind the mysterious moniker applies a looseness and low end expertise he might well have picked up in his previous incarnation which ensures his current output 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 (although it has blurred more than the boundaries between bass and techno).
Boddika’s “Grand Prix” bears some resemblance to the current wave of Chicago-inspired tracks – the heavy claps and the underlying acid line are evidence of the author’s interest in that sound – 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. It may not be a game changer, but this release furthers an aesthetic that’s way more interesting than backward-looking techno conservatism – and surely that’s a welcome development.
It would have been difficult to imagine an act as talented as Skudge indefinitely following the approach of their first few EPs. Indeed, as the Swedish duo told Juno Plus in our exclusive interview with them a few months back, their influences and more importantly, their ambitions stretch further than Basic Channel dub techno.
That said, “Surplus” doesn’t mark a radical change in style, nor does it herald an artistic volte face from the pair. What it does achieve rather craftily, however, is to subtly push the Skudge sound towards a more wide-ranging place. The same chugging, loopy groove is at is centre, but the use of uplifting 90s techno chords and celebratory rave whistles underscore the pair’s deep knowledge of and passion for electronic music’s recent past. “Void” is more closely aligned to modern day sounds as its insistent keys build to an acid-tinged, filtered climax. It’s Skudge’s most accessible track to date and it is likely to appeal to DJs who so far have not played their releases.
However, it is unlikely that Skudge will become the preserve of big-room house, something that is reinforced by the remix of “Void”. Ironically, Conforce’s version is the track most in keeping with the duo’s original approach. Based on robust, dubby beats and powered by driving hats, the sick, underlying acid line is a reminder that Skudge’s roots are still firmly planted in the underground.
Last year, a series of records appeared simply bearing the artist name Skudge. Nothing was known about the person or people behind the alias, other than the fact that they had released a record on Alphahouse the previous year. What was clear from early on however was Skudge’s dense, looped tracks were causing a stir, with support from everyone from Ben Sims, Luke Slater and Ben Klock to Shakir, Deetron and Efdemin as well as Marcel Fengler, 2562, Rolando and Aardvarck lining up to do remixes.
It’s apt that Skudge have called their debut album Phantom, as the mysterious Swedish duo seems to share the same characteristics as a supernatural being. Appearing out of nowhere at the end of 2009, Skudge’s detailed, locked-on house and techno was itself littered with references and influences from other genres, most notably Basic Channel’s dubby sound and the unflinching loopy rhythms of 90s techno, reinterpreted through the prism of dense, slower Berghain tempos. Skudge focus on roughly the same approach for their debut album, and, although book-ended by the sensuous chords and eerie ambience of “Ursa Major” and “Modular Storm”, the album is the most rounded demonstration yet of the duo’s ability to create precision-strike dance floor techno.
“Real Time”, for example, is classic Skudge, with dubby chords riding a filter sweeping across dense drums. “In Between” is deeper than their wont, but still powered by robust drum patterns, while a similar approach is audible on “Eleven”, where sweet chords and bleepy effects are underpinned by tough kicks. These subtle nods to classic sources are most audible on the title track, where Basic Channel scuffled riffs are combined with a moody bass straight out of the Underground Resistance/Rolando armoury. However, equally interesting results occur when Skudge pursue a more aggressive approach: the snappy percussion of “Sandblast” is encased in a metallic shell, “Downtown” reaches a tumultuous climax to the sound of doubled up claps and jarring riffs, and “Pressure Drop” and “Shivers” are rough, distorted workouts that suggest evil spirits may be inhabiting Skudge’s machines. Irrespective of what’s driving it, there is no doubt that this is a supernaturally good album.
Our friends at Fabric have found room on their list for a couple of Juno Plus readers to enter the hallowed Farringdon venue this Saturday with a suitably varied line-up across the three rooms doing all the talking.