Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Back Once Again With The Ill(ectronic) Behaviour

Fizzarum - Phut Of Flex

Various flavours of electronic goodness for you to feast on today, as I try to make up for nearly a month away with a mega post… Kicking things off are these four minutes of futuristic effervescence from the Russian duo of Dmitry Dubov and Dmitry Letahovskiy, recording as Fizzarum. 'Phut Of Flex' was released by City Centre Offices back in 1999, on clear 7" vinyl limited to 650 copies. To me, this is as close to perfection as you can get. The dense crunch of Autechre is married to a sublime melody so delicate it would crumble to dust if you so much as glanced at it the wrong way, all lovingly doused in fizz and crackle. Fizzarum were eventually signed up by Domino, who released a collection of all their limited singles in 2000 entitled 'Monochrome Plural'. The duo was acknowledged as the spearhead of a vaunted movement in Russian electronica, which included EU and the Art-Tek label. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really a movement - more of a minor twitch - and despite a handful of self-released albums, Fizzarum ceased to exist in 2004.

Fizzarum website
City Centre Offices website

Boom Bip - The Move

You can hear the seeds for Bryan 'Boom Bip' Hollon's recent John DeLorean concept album ‘Stainless Style’ (under the Neon Neon moniker, and in partnership with Gruff Rhys) in his second solo album 'Blue Eyed In The Red Room', released on Lex in 2005. A move from Cincinnati to Silver Lake, Los Angeles transformed Hollon from a producer of underground hip-hop, towards a shinier more expansive, pop electronic sound. Out went the jazz, the looped beats and samples, and the esoteric rappers; in came live instrumentation, poppy hooks and lovely vocals from Nina Nastasia. 'Blue Eyed...' also represented the first time Hollon worked with Gruff Rhys, on the mind-blowing psychedelic masterpiece 'Do's & Don'ts'. My favourite 'Blue Eyed...' track is the wonderful 'The Move', which is like an undiscovered New Order instrumental with added melodies by Vince Clarke, some delectable beat programming and a euphoric soft centre, which oozes joyous tunefulness like honey dripping from a beehive. Mmmmm, honey…

Boom Bip website
Boom Bip MySpace
Buy Boom Bip from Norman Records

Jega - Whore

Since Jega’s third album ‘Variance’ was leaked and subsequently shelved back in 2003, Manchester’s finest aural mentalist has gone very, very quiet. In fact, if you consider that his last ‘proper’ release was the ‘Geometry’ album of 2000, you could argue it’s been eight years since Dylan Nathan unleashed anything new, aside from the odd track for Planet µ comps. That makes the Roses seem prolific. Debuting for Skam in 1996 with the brutal yet brittle ‘Phlax EP’, Nathan continued to beguile with further recordings for Skam (the raw ‘Card Hore EP’ in ’97), and two albums for Planet µ- ‘98’s awesome ‘Spectrum’, and the aforementioned ‘Geometry’. I love Jega. As far as I am concerned, he is the grandmaster of balancing brutal breakbeats with subtle yet exquisite melodies. There are many examples of the maestro at work, but I’m posting ‘Whore’, his contribution to the ‘0161’ compilation, which came out on Skam in 1997. A Prodigy-esque break and a mutant sub-low bassline (currently enjoying something of a renaissance) are joined by some melodic niceness. Rumour has it he’s redoing ‘Variance’ as he was unhappy with how it sounded - if this is the case, get a move on son – we’re hungry.

Jega at Matador Records
Buy '0161' from Skam

The Marcia Blaine School For Girls - Still

What sort of music do you think a band called The Marcia Blaine School For Girls would make? When I first saw the name, I was imagining idiot American college punk a la Sum 41 or Bowling For Soup. But no, I couldn’t have been further from the truth – they actually knock out top quality electronic fare. A Glaswegian trio, they took their name from the fictional school of the 1961 novel and film, ‘The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie’, and last year’s long-player, ‘Halfway Into The Woods’, narrowly missed making it onto my end of year best of list, only dropping out owing to other quality Scot-tronica releases from Mosca and Rubens. The album mixed up all sorts of styles, from minimal gorgeousness, to Detroit-influenced techno and crunching mid-period Autechre. Or in the case of ‘Still’, what it might sound like if Underworld’s Karl Hyde got stuck in a malfunctioning power station that was playing host to a titanic lightsabre battle, as a mournful, folky vocal is enveloped by a cacophony of glitch. Marvellous.

The Marcia Blaine School For Girls website
Buy 'Halfway Into The Woods' from Norman Records
Marcia Blaine Industries MySpace

Wisp - Clipian

Finally on this monster missive, I’m sending big congratulations to Wisp aka Reid Dunn from Niagara Falls, NYC, who recently announced that he has signed to Rephlex Records for the release of his latest album ‘The Shimmering Hour’, due later on this year. Wisp was where I came in – my first blog post for Spoilt Victorian Child was a eulogy to Reid’s immense talents. Back then, he’d just released his first hard copy album (2005’s ‘NRTHNDR’ for the now defunct Sublight Records) after a string of MP3 releases of such stunningly high quality, my brain couldn’t fathom why he was giving them away for free and promptly fell out of my ear. Reid divided opinion across IDM messageboards, with some churlish sorts suggesting his gifts were all too close to an imitation of those artists he was obviously influenced by – the holy trinity of Aphex Twin, Autechre and Boards of Canada. It would seem that his signing to Rephlex is vindication for those of us who knew there was more to his talents than as a straight copyist with solid composition skills.

I’m posting ‘Clipian’ from ‘Honor Beats’, an 8-track mini-album released on Sublight in 2006. ‘Honor Beats’, with it’s heraldic-themed cover and J.R.R. Tolkien quote on the inner sleeve, outs Dunn’s barely concealed love for all things Middle Earth and Dungeons & Dragons. Luckily, the album stops short of being a ‘Lord Of The Rings’-themed love-in, despite the tumultuous opener ‘Beadumægen’ with its sampled hunting horns and medieval pipes (all mashed up with a killer amen, natch), and instead demonstrates his versatility and insane production talents. ‘Clipian’ starts off with an extended passage that doesn’t sound a million miles away from Aphex’s ‘Analord’ series, but soon grooves off into clattering breakcore territory, with a wondrous “sky-painted” melody and Nintendo bleeps. Not one to watch anymore, but perhaps the One to drag the electronic music scene, blinking and covered with cobwebs, out of the underground and back into the spotlight once again…

Download all Wisp's MP3 releases from the Wisp Archive
Wisp MySpace
Buy 'Honor Beats' from Boomkat