EMALKAY: "MECHA"/"THE ROGUE"
Thanks to Jono at Boka for this:
It drops sometime in August, I think. Boka's a label that's been around for a while: I bought a coupla twelves by the likes of Distance and Mark One some time ago, but I confess I'm not familiar with their more recent catalogue, just because of the sheer weight of product on the market these days.
To be honest, these took a coupla plays to bite, and mostly seemed to work in proportion to how much I cranked up my Wharfdales. "Mecha"...well, the title gives it away: dystopic half-step stomper in the style of early Vex'd (but w/out the disfunctional, exo-skeletal drums and hissing, off-kilter steampunk percussives), with a sliding saw-tooth synth that'll make you bite yr tongue off if you've snarfed too many pills...it's the bastard offspring of old skool Techstep/Scientific, and as much as I enjoy the savage, growling undertow of tracks like this, it lacks the sort of textural diversity that I really enjoy...if I'd checked it a few years ago, I'd prob. think it was the best thing I'd heard in ages, but there's a whole raft of people building tunes like this now and, despite its undeniable dancefloor firepower, I don't think a lot of this stuff is gonna have the depth or emotional longevity to last the distance...
Truth is, I've prob. been spoiled by too many really great, original-soundin' tunes by the likes of DMZ, Kode 9 and, more recently (again), the Skull Disco boys... these guys have their own unique sounds and they're taking the music off into new territories, new directions...case-in-point: Kode 9's "Magnetic City" uses droning, almost weedy keys to summon up a sense of nocturnal restlessness; it's kinda thin and almost reedy or tinny-sounding and I don't mean that as a pejorative; it creates a series of subtle inner narrative tensions that tug and pull against each other without loosing its forward momentum or resorting to bulldozer half-step tactics...9 is creatively confident enough to take the basic templates of Dubstep and Detroit Techno, then reduce, stretch and fuse them together into some sort of, I dunno, fractured Minimal Euro-American Motorik that sounds fucking fresh to my ears...still, my recent FACT review sez pretty much sums up what I think about this tune...
And did I say what a colossal soft spot I've got for Benga? The man does d-d-d-dark without going brutal on y'head.
Still, I'm told that "Mecha" is currently destroying raves and single-handedly laying waste to small South American nations, so what do I know. I'm sure I'll be out somewhere soon with a bellyful of gin onboard and this'll come on and pulp my mind and my ribcage into a bloody smear and I'll enjoy every moment of it, but right now I want something that'll touch my head n my heart in equal measures.
Emalkay is over here, so go check his tunes and make up yr own mind. Some of this stuff almost sounds like an updated, post-DnB version of, um, summat like Portion Control or Frontline Assembly, maybe. Still, a tune like "Bats in the Belfry" would prob. sound really great to the right demographic in the context of a Warhammer-themed X-Box game or as incidental music for some Kate Beckensdale vehicle featuring her as a retro-futuristic vinyl-clad zombie-hunter, yeah? (If any commish'ning games-eds or producers're reading this, then use this guy's music: Kch-chiiiing!) Don't like the keyboard sounds much on "Gut Feeling" tho. Kinda late 90s Numan-goes-Industrial Rock feel going on there in places, ie not really my bag.
(Postscript: three hours later and I have actually got a bellyful o'gin onboard and, as anticipated, I'm diggin' this a lot more than when the sun was still up...and the omninous gamebox shufflebeats of "The Rogue" have got me wondering if I've got any Japsplat in the house I ain't watched yet...not ('scuse the pun) U-Turning on this, or going Jekyll n Hyde on ya, as much as confirming that my muuuze tastes twist n slide depending on various parameters such as sobriety, levels of daylight, etc...the MySpace mixes, paradoxically, sound punchier than the CD, or maybe I've just got my gin-ears on now...interesting to speculate how the 12" cuts might sound in comparison...see how easily it is to tie yrself up in knots writing about this stuff? Normally I'm pretty opinionated about shit, as you know, but have suddenly realised that this falls in some grey zone, where my responses might differ according to mood or male menstral cycle...this is certainly designed, intentionally or otherwise, to appeal to Machizzzzzmo Male Pressure in the same way as Motorhead, AC/DC, Black Metal, etc: Post-DnB Half-Step Dub as the new Rawk, anyone?)