Antoine Rouge – Spook Juke EP

Spawned out of Timothy J Fairplay and Scott Fraser’s well-regarded, irregular Glasgow party – a self-proclaimed excuse to play faster, harder and weirder house and techno sounds than perhaps they’re known for – the Crimes of the Future label promises to be one of the more interesting new labels going forth. Their respective production output in recent times coupled with the unflinching support of friend and collaborator Andrew Weatherall – a man who knows a thing or two about fuzzy techno, curious house and leftfield electronic music – at least suggests as much.

Those expecting heady slow jams should look away now. Speaking about the label to Juno Plus earlier this year, Fairplay admitted to being “a bit sick of the whole slow tempo/disco thing”, and this first EP neatly sidesteps that side of things in favour of the sort of wonky, clandestine, horror-chic drum machine funk that you’d expect from a label named after a particularly odd David Cronenberg film. The references to the film don’t stop there, either; the EP is credited to Antoine Rouge, the name of the 1970 horror flick’s lead character. For the record, Rouge is a new alter ego for the always impressive Fairplay.

Antoine Rouge - Spook Juke EP
Artist
Antoine Rouge
Title
Spook Juke EP
Label
Crimes of the Future
Format
12"
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Musically, Spook Juke is an impressive debut. Undeniably fuzzy and low rent, all four tracks are based around the twin attractions of raw drum machine rhythms and curiously off-kilter vintage synthesisers. Fairplay’s music is rarely clean or polished, but there’s a crustiness and spookiness to proceedings that’s rarely less than intoxicating. The title track sets the tone, building a formidable groove around urgent, delay-laden drums, a relentless low-end synth riff, alien stabs – think intergalactic rave, at a pulsating house tempo – and rising and falling melodies straight out of a Symmetry record. If Legowelt had the chance to jam with John Carpenter, it would probably sound like this.

“Tapioca Island” flips the script, utilizing a similar formula for a different end result. Its cheap-sounding synths, darting bassline and cascading melodies make it sound like the in-game music of a forgotten Amiga game (possibly about wizards), dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century – or the tail end of the last millennium, at least. Like much of Fairplay’s work, it’s full of the kind of neat touches that conjure up all sorts of weird and wonderful images. It’s certainly evocative, despite its clear dancefloor fixation.

Perhaps the greatest example of Fairplay’s evocative, imaginative approach comes on “Sharri’s Magic Purse”. The drum programming has a little more swing, the production sounds even fuzzier, and the melodies are more densely layered. Its clandestine invitation to “jack”, relentless cymbals and dense percussion are off-set by more winding, otherworldly synth melodies and an impending sense of doom. It somehow manages to be both intense and otherworldly, a trick repeated by closing track “Flight Into Danger”. Like the rest of the EP, it comes on like the closing music of a particularly murky, eccentric late ‘70s/early ‘80s horror film. The sheer intricacy of the interplay between Fairplay’s various synth melodies and arpeggios is impressive. Really, it should be a mess. It isn’t, of course, but we’d expect nothing less from a producer of Fairplay’s talent.

Matt Anniss

Tracklisting:

A1. Spook Juke
A2. Tapioca Island
B1. Sharri’s Magic Purse
B2. Flight Into Danger

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