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Iueke – Tape 5

There’s something a little maddening about the slow emergence of Iueke material from Gwen Jamois via his friend Quentin Vandewalle’s Antinote label. With all these tracks made back in the early ‘90s, one can’t help but feeling a little flustered as to why they sat unreleased for so long, with not so much as a whisper coming out of whichever Parisian attic they were crafted in. Between the three records already released and this latest trio of tracks there is a consistent level of sophistication that deserves to have been recognised back in the time when they were created. It hardly matters to the quality of the sounds, but one wonders what might have happened if the music had found its way to the surface back when it was made.

Iueke - Tape 5
Tape 5
Antinote Recordings
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This sentiment rings especially true with “Tape 5”, which adorns the A side in a laconic celebration of aqueous back-room aesthetics that feel similar in spirit to Move D’s early outings on Source or even the recently unearthed KM20 reissues on Off Minor Recordings. The drums patter out a teasing flurry of snares that come on like a textural decoration rather than a sharply defined groove accent, illustrating the point that this is not music to dance to but rather to trance to. It’s the celestial trickling of synths that really mark out the psychedelic qualities of the music though, as rivulets of melody come cascading down in such freeform patterns you’d be hard pushed to tell if they were triggered or hand played. With an abundance of filter sweeping and a very gentle hum of bass budging the track along, it’s the perfect ambient techno excursion, easily on a par with anything that orbited the B12 / Stasis field of exploration back in those heady frontier days and nights.

“Tape 5.1” is shocking then for its stark difference, bringing a slow jam heat that wouldn’t sound out of place in a world where Soundstream is pitched down to a dystopian lurch. The term loop techno will invariably make most music lovers shudder with its connotations of breakneck momentum, a lack of melody and endless hours of the same damned sound, but here Iueke shows just how to use an insistent hook to deliver a powerful impact. The same minor stab and nagging bassline rotate into infinity within “Dubjam”, and yet it sounds utterly engaging. It’s helped by the fact that there are plenty more sounds flying round the mix, with a swirling noise backdrop and simple percussive elements sneaking in and out of earshot, but this is done with a microscopic touch so as to be undetectable to the casual listener. With just these few key elements and no need for a particular direction to the track, a sizzling slice of warm-up tension is created that sounds shockingly modern despite its age.

Providing something of an alternative to round the EP off, “Freejam” finds Jamois breaking away from drum machine guidelines and playing out a loose, hand-wrought experiment that wouldn’t sound out of place chilling in the wilder realms of the Afrikan Sciences / Aybee camp. The percussive synth clonks fall down into the slow-oscillating pads with such irregularity it’s hard to tell if its jazzy prescience or pure accident, but it doesn’t really matter. The intention must have been to send the listeners head spinning, and it would indeed be hard to keep your noggin anchored after all that arrhythmic chaos.

It just goes to show that the Iueke project continues to yield surprises, and one wonders just how deep and varied the archive goes. Other archival rediscoveries such as DJ Guy have equally proven that there were a whole lot more pioneering artists working back in the early ‘90s than anyone ever got to hear, which is a triumph for the accessibility of independent music in modern times. One can’t help but wonder if different strains of Jamois’ creativity could have been explored more effectively had there been a release-driven purpose to his work, but then the freedom that comes from creating just for the sake of it has equal merit. What ifs will always remain what ifs, and a record such as Tape 5 gives us plenty to celebrate instead.

Oli Warwick


A1. Tape 5
B1. Tape 5.1
B2. Tape 5.2