In an interview with FACT last year, Lee Gamble explained the name of his new label UIQ as representing an unearthly germ, relating to the hypothetical idea of panspermia (life on earth originating from an extraterrestrial source). Potential interaction with alien life is attached to a friend or foe anxiety, and with this in mind, Gamble noted he would “have to shut [UIQ] down if it’s terrible, or let it go if it’s OK.” Praise was heaped upon the first two outings on the label from N1L and ZULI that sounded fittingly otherworldly with their abstract productions landing somewhere in the black hole of genre indeterminism. Now it appears the response to each record has given Gamble confidence in the merit of his undertaking, or the OK-ness of it at least, as the once single-celled UIQ has been allowed to divide and grow with the emergence of the UIQ Inversions series dedicated solely to Lee Gamble productions.
The first arrival on UIQ Inversions is this four-track EP, Chain Kinematics, which sees Gamble maintain the imprint’s approach of slightly unhinged sonic exploration. Gamble’s disinterest in fixed structures defines the EP’s complex sound design. Unpick each track and you’ll find cues from the spectrum of techno, jungle, leftfield and more, but taken as a whole they’re muddied and ambiguous. And the record’s intrigue lies in this meshing together of disparate sounds and the way in which they interact.
The opening of “For Infernomatics” alternates between a dampened snare and kick which builds up a rhythm that is then disrupted by jarring glitches. A bass tone that sounds almost like a muted version of the womp from that functionally-titled Joy Orbison number is then repeated over the final 45 seconds. The outcome is a track with components that could be from a hand-raising floor tool and sections that just sound like malfunctioning hardware. It’s comes across as experimental in a playful sense, born from a curiosity in what this combination may yield. The result of a warehouse-ready-meets-cutting-room-floor mutation is strangely satisfying in its peculiarity.
“Kinematics” is the most magical moment on the EP, featuring a flickering glassy melody that could soundtrack sprites dancing under moonlight, while “004” is Chain Kinematics’ most propulsive turn. Industrial kicks thud darkly from the first beat, before clattering percussion and a roughly cut synth snippet restlessly toss and turn. A gentle ambient line glides mystically behind the hard-hitting fore, at one point swallowing the kick into muffled obscurity. It feels like the track inhabits a purgatory on the edge of a nightmare, never quite allowing its dreamy elements to settle, but never plunging fully into the murkiness either. Even the creepy, distorted vocal and machine gun drums at the close soon fade away behind an airy pad.
Closer “Cnull” is about as far-out as a track purporting to be dance-orientated can get, seemingly designed to induce listeners to curl up into an anxious ball rather than let loose on a club floor. Despite a kick slamming through the foundation and the late introduction of a jungle break, the textures constructed above scratch and crunch wildly, jolting as they collide and disintegrate. An agitating, warzone atmosphere sets in, which is then intensified by the sound of a plane hurtling overhead. Until Earth does make first contact, the groundbreaking, futuristic sounds of UIQ and Chain Kinematics are perhaps the closest thing to experiencing alien life we’ll get.
A2. For Infernomatics