K Soul & Muteoscillator – Soul Hell EP
The latest release on Dekmantel brings to the fore two figures who have been quietly simmering away on the Italian radar with a handful of rough, analogue curios to their name. K Soul and Muteoscillator have largely operated on the formers Kinda Soul imprint, tapping into the upsurge of old-school styles but finding their own path independent of rehashed Chicagoisms. Always injecting a healthy amount of swing in their work, the beats tend to operate at a funky tilt even as they come rasping out a compressor, but it’s the melodies that grab your attention through thick globules of basslines and freestyle keys jamming.
While it’s made for some daring tracks in the past, there has often been a piece of the puzzle missing; at times the tracks came off feeling a little too raw, lacking a bit of production nous and some prudent editing. This latest offering for the Dutch label that brought you Juju & Jordash, Vedomir and plenty more besides makes for a fitting environment for the pair to indulge their left-leaning tendencies, and the release marks something of a break through in nailing their sound.
“Soul Hell” makes for a logical lead track, and it also represents the most obviously K Soul & Muteoscillator style on the record. It’s a plush, expansive record powered by an unbridled positivity, both through the effervescent chords and the peppy beat. As in the past though, it’s the bassline that really comes through, in this instance a square wave monster that bumps around the shuffling groove with dexterity. It’s a guaranteed party starter, delivered with perfect poise. The obligatory keys workout comes in for the final furlong of the track, and even those sound more comfortable in the mix, no longer domineering the track once they come tearing in.
Plying a very different trade altogether, “Stinger” is a moody antithesis to the jubilant energy of the first track, slipping into a darker synth arrangement and more hard-edges. It makes for a successful reapplication of their sound which points to an increasing maturity in their production, There are instances where you get to observe artists growing up with their increasing back catalogues, and this is definitely true in the case of K Soul & Muteoscillator. As if nailing this point home, “Detrance” goes even further astray with its woozy temperament and most delicate of drum tracks. The clever shifting of two separate synth lines creates a wonderfully disorientating effect, lost in a constant hypnotic loop until the track gives way into a swaying dub meltdown softened by layers of pad arranged as if to make a post rock record.
From the off there has been an innate strangeness at work in the music of K Soul & Muteoscillator which, as in the case with many adventurous artists, needs time to refine and hone those wild streaks (without losing the inventiveness of course). With this record the pair have made a decisive step forwards in delivering on the promise their individual approach holds.
A1. Soul Hell