When thinking back to classic electronica, the memories tend to be those of wilfully awkward music that constantly sought to batter the preconceptions of what a drum machine and a synthesiser were built for. Think Aphex Twin in stoutly difficult B-Side mode or the natural evolution of Autechre. However, the vast majority of it really was just dance music, much like house, techno or breakbeat, albeit with slightly more punk inclinations, and yet the creative spring that gushed unfettered for some fifteen years seemed to dry up and get left behind by all but a few loyal torch bearers (and the odd opportunist).
Andrea Parker is an artist who always neatly straddled the conceptual divide between dancefloor and headphone music with her own output for Mo Wax et al, and her Touchin Bass label. Her ominous, pared down ghetto-tech tendencies were offset by adventurous textures and sound sources that created atmospheres more esoteric than a lot of the music that provided her jump-off point. Her more recent label, Aperture, makes a more distinct beeline for experimental tones, and it finds her calling upon hitherto unknown talents and celebrated treasures to ignite some excitement in a corner of electronic music that has languished needlessly.
Oberman Knocks released an album on Aperture three years ago, and now he finds himself going under the knife for a remix EP that features the sizable talents of Plaid, Quinoline Yellow, Adapta and Uexkull. What’s most striking upon first listen to these four tracks is how neatly they sit together, which is a rarity in the wide-reaching genre tag electronica (which, let’s face it, could mean anything from Reich’s four minutes of silence up to breakneck harder-than-gabba madness depending on who you talk to).
Plaid present the most prominent of all the artists here, with their illustrious history on Warp Records, and their version of “Degonnt Type Runners” presents all of their strongest facets in a beautiful and yet sinister track. Most notable are the bewitching chord progressions which have always had a strong whiff of Grimm’s Fairy Tales about them, and come through in full force here with a spine-chilling melody that climbs ever higher without once edging near euphoria. Accompanying such accomplished composition is a perfectly stepped breakbeat that courses ever forward while keeping a constant kink in the groove, only accentuated by the drunken and miniscule hat.
Quinoline Yellow, while not as notorious as Plaid, released an album and numerous singles for the lauded Manchester label Skam, and his version here carries on the fine tradition of winsome star-gazing melodies and gritty rhythmic pulses that he laid out previously. The beat swaggers just as much as it deftly hops between a myriad of different percussive noises, and yet everything still stays locked to a groove. Granted it may not be conventional material to pull out your best moves to, but then who is interested in dancing conventionally?
Uexkull and Adapta both previously formed Bitstream, whose industrial flavoured electro variations found a home on Modern Love and City Centre Offices among others. In their individual guises, much of their previous incarnation seems intact. In Uexkull’s case, the complexity of his remix comes from creative approaches to triggering rhythms and a heavy leaning on texture and sound design, while Adapta hones in on a warmer kind of electro sound that lets some tasty acid into the mix. It’s still doused in pads and noises that lend to an ambiguous and edgy mood, but comparatively has clearer reference points. What strikes you most about this EP is just how satisfying it can be to hear experimental music that doesn’t have to render itself beatless or arrhythmic just to satisfy your neurons. The production values and imagination that go into these kinds of compositions, remixes or not, come as a welcome break from the conventions that sit heavy on most electronic music.
1. Degonnt Type Runners (Plaid remix)
2. Lenkmyte (Uexkull remix)
3. Pneuquonsis On Return (Quinoline Yellow remix)
4. Fewton Tension Kords (Adapta remix)