As far as sub-genres of house music go, the rough analogue workings of the Hague sound have been relatively untouched in the age of revisitation. That might be because some of its key protagonists are still actively pursuing that same messy yet alluring aesthetic, from Legowelt’s increasing profile to the success of labels such as Crème Organisation. Of course that’s a long time to be plying your trade, as the roots of the sound run back to the dawn of seminal label Bunker Records in the early 90s, but there’s something inescapably timeless about the spirit of these records, even if they sound simultaneously and purposefully dated.
In that sense L.I.E.S is an interesting proposition, as the Brooklyn-based label seeks to tap into that imaginative but primarily jacking corner of the dancefloor. There’s no doubt the label has its own agenda and isn’t trying to be a “Hague” revivalist venture, the curatorial taste of label boss Ron Morelli is too broad to allow that, but the parallels in sound have been undeniable. This latest 12” is no different, featuring the talents of Bad News, aka Morelli and fellow New Yorker Douglas Lee.
There’s quite simply no messing with a track like “Real Bad News”, as the thoroughly musical kick drum stamps out a relentlessly simple message that it’s party time. The diversions in the first half of the track come largely from the top end, as occasional flocks of phasing cymbals come twisting in and out, while spin-back snares enhance the scuffed approach that makes tracks this simple so addictive. At the midway point the true intentions of this stripped back banger become apparent, as a monolithic synth barges all the rhythm out of the way for an anthemic riff which pretty much guarantees maximum rave hysteria; extra notes of high-pitched bleeps and warbles add to the madness.
While it might not take much to get your head around the A-Side, things get spicy on the flip as “More Bad News” veers away from instant satisfaction into a realm of jagged experimentation that rewards the brave. There’s still a house framework chugging away underneath, but it’s under constant threat of derailment from a whopping great locomotive of ugly, impulsive noise. At times the sonic chaos wins out and wheels come right off the tracks, only to get lifted back on and back into the drunken throng.
It’s an utterly fearsome track, but utterly brilliant with it. Even as the torrent of vapourous noise swells up around and it seems like there’s no coming back, a rugged bass synth stumbles out of the mist with a kick in a headlock and they come leering towards you, falling over each other but unstoppable in their stupor. Any track that conjures up imagery caught between steam trains and drunks has to be worth raising a glass to.
1. Real Bad News
2. More Bad News