DJ Guy – AC004
Even as the All Caps label presents its fourth release, it’s still tricky to work out what their remit is. There certainly seems to be an unhurried, instinctive quality to the signing of the three twelves the Glasgow imprint has yielded so far, and all from contemporary producers caught in the flux between the gritty techno renaissance and the production heft that still lingers on from dubstep. Given the approximate proximity of Alex Coulton, Helix and Kowton, it’s surprising to learn then that the fourth release comes not from another modern maverick, but rather a secret weapon of UK techno lain in suspended animation since the mid ’90s. Guy Evans may have reactivated his studio in the wake of the renewed interest in machine-driven electronics, but these tracks All Caps have chosen to release were recorded between 1994 and 1996.
Operating a rudimentary set up from his base in Cardiff, Evans built up quite a stash of recordings which is now being bundled up and unleashed on his Bandcamp page, but in the wake of such an abundance of music All Caps serves a valuable role in picking out some choice gems and bringing them to a wider audience. It’s clear from an early stage that there is something special about these rough diamonds, resplendent in their grainy finish before such attributes were stylistically desirable.
“20” starts out interesting and only deepens from there, as a tweaked, crystalline arpeggio plucks out a fantastic melody that toys with the rugged kick lurching underneath. There’s a great balance struck between the trippy, cyclical elements and the tougher, groove orientated pieces of the sonic puzzle, but more noticeable is the dynamic progression of the track, not least at the midway point when the track opens out into a ranging soundscape in which the filter on the lead synth can flirt and flutter at will. For the time, there’s a staggering amount of detail and variation worked into what sound like straight-up machine jams, as the track ever evolves and deviates while remaining true to its original design.
While it may just be an interlude, “81” reinforces the impression given by “20” that the advent of Warp Records and techno music for home listening were looming in the shadows of these production sessions. The industrial electro pallor of the drums and atonal sonic decorations would certainly have sounded comfortable on one of the Artificial Intelligence compilations. Proving there is still a wealth of possibilities to what further material Evans might have in his archive, “05” heads off into broken techno territory, the staggered kick pattern meeting with playful top and mid-end percussion, but really it’s the synths that steal the show here. Globulous melodies and aqueous sound effects bounce off of the snagging arrangement with gleeful abandon, both exuberant and elusive in the same breath. As with “20” the track never stagnates, constantly shifting and unfolding with that organic touch that simply can’t be programmed.
As well as being a welcome find and a move towards old as well as new music, what this release brings to All Caps is perhaps the first whiff of what the label is all about. There may be decades between the previous singles and this one, but in the brittle rasp of the percussion DJ Guy used you can almost draw a line to the punishing abrasion of “T.F.B.” or “Stacks Riddim”. The link may be tenuous or even indirect, and it certainly doesn’t spell out anything for the future of the enterprise, but at least for the mean time AC004 fits on the label despite its unique context.
A1. 20 (1996)
B1. 81 (1994)
B2. 05 (1995) (edit)