When I started to write this post I originally had it in the same format as I did last time. But as the amount of music that I wanted to talk about just started getting bigger and bigger, I decided it would be easier to split it into different sections under some frankly brilliant and google worthy headlines. In no way am I trying to create the next outsider house or post-dubstep or catgaze or melon wave. They're purely functional phrases; a necessary evil that you should never use or say to anyone (You'll sound ridiculous). As I started to categorise the different music that have been doing it for me, I started to realize that this method was indicative of a wider journalistic issue at the moment. There are hundreds of micro-scenes and micro-genres and a lot of them are purely fictional creations of a journalist that are purely imagined for an easy headline. In Sophie's World the Dad thought his imaginary creatures into being, and in a similar way journalists are all too quick to lump music together that have come from completely disparate parts of the world and place them together under a two word header. Outsider house, for example, was originally a tongue-firmly-in-cheek-term created by Ben UFO that he has since distanced himself from (sensible man). It has now become a much abused part of the lexicon. When looked at Hardwax, for example, that phrase lumps together labels as wide and disparate as Perlon, Trilogy Tapes, Sahko, Smallville, Rush Hour, Idle Hands, Morphine and plenty others. How can some of the most well respected and popular underground house labels be defined as outsider? So in the spirit of this wonderful nonsense, I present to you 3 catchy headers and plenty of lovely music.
Afterhours - Lowlife [Not Not Fun]
Not Not Fun has consistently been one of the most interesting labels of the past few years, releasing a diverse range of music from some of the most interesting contempoary artists. A recent release by Afterhours is indicative of the eclecticism of the label as a whole. Lowlife is a fantastic 6 tracker that takes the best from trip hop, African music and the more leftfield strains of house. The opening track sounds like something from Confield era Autechtre but fused with pianos and acoustic drums. Sixty-Forty could easily of come from a Portishead song while Lovesick sounds like a twisted Black Coffee song. The second half delves in ambient soundscapes, slo-mo house and another trip hop number that is is more Paris than Bristol. This eclecticism makes the album sounds less like an artist expressing their musical individuality but more like an expression of their taste. Lowlife is less a concrete musical statement and more a 30 minute sonic anthropological experiment.
Georgia - Like Comment [Meakusma]
In a similar vein as the Afterhours album, Like Comment is a blistering fusion of IDM, Shangaan and Talabotian house. Being released on a label that has previously showcased people like Terrence Dixon and Madteo should shine a light on what to expect from Georgia's sophomore release. Disparate music is brought together in a way that feels like a proper sonic fusion that takes the intrinsic structural elemets of each genre rather than just the superficial toppings. Haya, for example, has African-esque percussion and rhythms, a synthetic choir and a End of the Game style guitars that when combined together creates one the most breath-taking tunes on the album as each element is brought in and out of focus in an almost free-form way.
Bintus - Live* & Locked [Power Vacuum]
Released at the arse end of 2013 this album by Bintus is one of the most lively and heart-racing albums of recent memory. To put it simply, this album fucking bangs. Paring the aggressiveness of classic electro by people like Anthony Rother and Billy Nasty with the kind of rolling garage-techno steppers of Pangaea or Radial, this album is a half hour ball of messy, dirty sweaty fun that manages to sound as cheeky as it does angry. Techno and electro has a reputation for being ultra-serious music for serious men wearing serious black t shirts but often the very best versions of this music have had a little wink or smile. To use an extremely obvious and overused example, listen to The Bells again and don't tell me a little smile comes to your face when you realise he's using fucking church bells in an otherwise dirty and distorted techno banger. Live* & Locked functions in a similar way. He uses similar sounds as famously ultra serious techno heads such as Perc and AnD but subverts and twists them through rhythmic invention to create something that sounds as brutal as it does saucy . Take Giza Plateaux for example. This is a tune that wouldn't seem out of place on Hessle or Hemlock that combines the more harder edge sounds of those labels through someone like Joe's idiosyncratic universe.
Elitechnique - Intrusion Part II [Clone Loft Supreme]
Morphology - Identity Component [Zyntax Motorcity]
On a more serious tip, Identity Component is Morphology's sophomore album that continues their path of dubby, pointillist Drexciyan electro. From the first two tunes it's clear that these dudes mean business. Magnetosphere is a fast paced electro thriller with an acidic bassline, frantic percussion and dub chords. It sounds like a darker, rougher take on NRSB-11's aluminum critique on contemporary capitalism with last year's album Commodified. This sound is continued throughout the album until we get to the penultimate Inertial Motion that in my mind is the most beautiful tune on this release. Starting off with an extremely delicate rhythm and washed out chords, the sub bass is suddenly brought in and moves the song forward. Two thirds of the way through a a synthetic string pattern comes in that left this listener breathless. It's reminiscent of a similar moment half way through Peverelist's seminal Rolling With The Punches when the main high frequency melody that has been playing throughout the song is suddenly taking over by a pulsating synth that completely changes the whole vibe of the tune.
Hound Scales - Sabbath Lillie Hawks [White Asega]
Hound Scales is an artist that is normally affiliated with the Brooklyn based label Fifth Wall that was recently featured in RA's excellent Label of the Month series. They've become associated with an interesting middle ground between house and techno that verges towards the rougher, edgier side of each spectrum. Starting off 2014 on the rising label White Asega, Sabbath Lillie Hawks is a fantastic 4 tracker that develops on this sound pushed by people like Divvorce and Metrist as well as the aforementioned Hound Scales. The opening track Odile could easily fit in with the rougher, industrial side of techno but has a funkier, more soulful side that a lot of that music lacks. A distorted, metronomic main groove is juxtaposed by wailing soul samples that would be a breah of fresh air in the darkest of sets. Howard Hugesian is a more direct tune that has a certain bounce that was explored by Kamikaze Space Programme on their self titled 12" from last year. On the flip, Thinner sounds like a darker, distant cousin of an Akufen-eque stepper that's paired with an admirable remix by Forward Strategy Group. Hound Scales and the Fifth Wall crew are definatly ones to watch out for over the coming year.
L'estasi Dell'oro - Iscariotic Lips [Macro]
It's far too much of a journalistic cliche to say that a piece of music takes you on a journey, but sometimes music can become exploratory and otherworldly. L'estasi Dell'oro have been pursuing a completely baffling and unique path and have only added to it with this release on Stefan Goldmann's Macro imprint. Their 2013 was ridiculously on point and topped by a 15 minute Unit Moebius Anonymous vs. Shitcluster Remix that had ludicrously over distorted drums, blistering noise and a deranged pitched down voice demanding us to enjoy ourselves. Iscariotic Lips is superficially quieter and more reserved than that tune, but this is deceiving because underneath it's a whole lot stranger. This release leaves the impression of what a rougher, disheveled Ricardo Villalobos might sound like. Iscariotic Lips isn't a million miles away from something like Africolaps but goes much further down the rabbit hole. Reverse & Repair wouldn't sound out of place on labels like Trilogy Tapes or L.I.E.S, it's screeching violins in wicked harmony with the distorted drums.
Mark Du Mosch - Bay 25 [Dekmental]
I've always thought that Mark Du Mosch has been one of the most undervalued artists producing this kind of fashionable, weird house music. His releases for Moustache and Tabernacle have been some of the highlights of the recent times and he carries on that high standard for the amazing Dutch label Dekmental. Sharing similar sounds with the recent Ondo Fudd release for Trilogy Tapes, this is in a completely different class to most of that kind of music and shows a subtlety and understanding of the music that most lack. Both Bay 25 and Living Up are brilliant explorations of noisey house music and are complimented with a remix by critics darling Gesloten Cirkel.