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Madteo – Bugler Gold Pt.1 review

Many may have been surprised to hear that the first release on Joy Orbison and Will Bankhead’s new Hinge Finger imprint was going to be from Workshop associate Madteo, given Orbison’s recent forays into more abrasive territory with Boddika. However Orbison and Bankhead have had a longstanding admiration for the German imprint, with Kassem Mosse being chosen in 2010 to remix Braiden for Orbison’s Doldrums imprint, and a cassette mix from Mosse being released through Bankhead’s Trilogy Tapes imprint.

Madteo’s beats have always hung a little looser than those of his Workshop labelmates, and it’s an approach he also takes with track composition, with BPMs and moods varying wildly throughout the EP. On “Bugler Gold” for instance, a languorous bassline drips between a barely-there kickdrum; it couldn’t be more different than “Biz R Us (Whore Powers Resolution)” which follows it, a clunking rhythmic machine that maintains a thunderous forward momentum despite its sharper edges being coated in a soporific blanket of Chloroformed cotton wool.

The B-Side is another totally different proposition: “Scream Seq”, with its library music arpeggio and odd melodies has the feel of a 70s US public information film soundtrack. Its relatively bright tones are a stark contrast to what is arguably the most dancefloor friendly track on the EP, “Xtra Loose Change (2010 refix)”, though even this is weighed down with beats that feel like they’re being dragged through mud. It’s the sort of relentlessly deep house that is held together with little more than rhythm and pure atmosphere, each percussive micro-element perfectly balanced with a bassline which is almost beyond the limit of human hearing. But although there’s little ostensibly holding these disparate tracks together, stylistically the EP oozes the foggy atmosphere of Amber-era Autechre, filtered through the lens of Detroit beatdown, a mood reflected perfectly in the stunning Bankhead designed sleeve, featuring a sinister photo and mosaic frame rendered in grainy slate gray.

Given Orbison and Bankhead’s shared love for Workshop it’s hard not to approach this record with that label in mind. Are the pair attempting to create a British homage to the label? Obviously one release is not enough to tell, but if future releases are this strong, and see the pair engage in some shrewd A&R moves outside of the Workshop stable, Hinge Finger could well be a worthy rival to its throne.

Scott Wilson


1. Bugler Gold
2. Biz R Us (Whore Powers Resolution)
3. Scream Seq
4. Xtra Loose Change (2010 refix)