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Friday, March 19, 2010

INTRO/TEST: EKOPLEKZ VOLUME ONE

Project “E”. Diary Note of Initial Assessment Meeting. 10/01/10

Attendees: @Thrifty_Vinyl @kekw
Apologies: None.

Bullet Points:

1) Nick buys an Eko organ (with built-in drum-box).

2) Kek says: “Could you do me a track for "Local Horse Artists" using it, something short and sweet, something song-based, maybe?”

3) Nick says: "A track?! with this organ? Blimey! S'pose I could dust off the 4-track and see what happens... "

4) Kek thinks about Italian Organ & Synthesiser Manufacturers for a few minutes.


Mail Intercept/Catchment App (designate: “Postie”):

On Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 8:13 AM, Nick Gutta ********@******.com wrote:

"Well this is the first piece of music I've made on analogue gear for about 6/7 years. Be gentle with me...

https ://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php action=batch_download&batch_id=***********

"In the end, I stuck with the purity of the organ sounds on their own, but with some heavy treatments and some random noises. It sounds quite, y'know, old. And very brief!

"Yes, the 'edit and tweak' phase will come later. I think the methodology will be to just dump a shitload of sounds and ideas onto 4-track and then have a big editing session later on - that's where modern technology will come in - even a fervent retro-enthusiast like me doesn't want to go back to the old pause-button editing days! Essentially, get the initial creativity straight from the id, then conceptualise it all later."

Then these start appearing.

Then this guy gets involved.

Then this arrives:



The first track transports me. I’m in the living-room of my old flat in Woodland Rd, Bristol; it's 1978 and it must be a Wednesday because I’ve skived off a lecture about viral genetics to read my weekly copy of Sounds. There’s an interview with some 'new' Sheffield electronics band called Cabaret Voltaire who sound pretty fucking interesting; they’ve got a 7” EP out next week. I remember the electric bar-heater in the fire-place of the flat, the old telly, the freezing-cold lean-to kitchen (more like a glass-house than an actual room), the small table that Hugh and I used to eat our tea off while watching Crossroads.

I dutifully pop into Revolver Records to score a copy of “Extended Play” – the first record by the Cabs. No doubt, Roger, the record-shop owner, makes some pithy remark as I hand over my dosh (“Don’t buy that; it’ll give you a bloody headache, huhr, hurrh, hruh. Ah, no, wait, you’re that twat who bought the Throbbing Gristle album the other week – you’ll be alright, then: hruh, hruh, ha.” (God, I fucking miss Roger! Sometimes he’d put records into a small brown paper-bag and say, “well, I wouldn’t want you to get caught taking something as fucking uncool as that out of my shop...hurh, hurhhh heh.”)).

I am transfixed/transformed, truly removed. This has sent me somewhere else.

I pass my 19yr old self travelling in the opposite direction; an inverted Meme:Stream.

Intro/Test", the opening track by Ekoplekz, backflips me back thru time; reminds me how fresh – how uncontrived – all that shit used to sound. What CV were especially good at doing on their earlier, arhythmic, more Tape-Collage type pieces – and which Nick has nailed perfectly here (but in an unselfconscious, non-pastiche-y way) – is the idea of Radio as Disembodied Voice, of accidental Burroughsian audio cut-up (spliced by static and signal-drift) – hrrmmm, think: the “Control Voice” from Outer Limits TV-show intro; the idea of fragmented information-flows hidden in the aether, yet accessible via something as simple as an old transistor-radio – a wireless – a wire-coil and some fucking diodes – transmissions from elsewhere/voices from the void; the cold outreach of Authority – disembodied, yet still present all around us – an invisible/Orwellian analogue presence...

I cannot hear radio-static and not think of outer-space. Yet CV were so overtly edgy/un-Hippy, so Anti-Kosmische. In their version of drone/drift.history, Space has already been colonised by the military. There is no geosynchronous utopia; no geodomes or modernist spacewheels, just hardware, HUDs and The Control Voice: The Man got there first.

But all is not lost; invert the metaphor and the fractured transmissions start to mean something else. The music has another implicit narrative: if we cannot hear everything that is being said, it is because The Control Voice is being partially blocked, filtered...the deep-space static - the interference - has become our friend. In laying bare the methodology of Control and its processes - in merely revealing its presence - we have taken the first steps in fighting back. The music of CV and their descendents becomes a weapon.

I like the fact that Nick's opening track reminds me of all this - that lessons have been forgotten over the years. Ground lost.

"Hole in my Sound" is the other flipside of the early CV-sound: if "Intro/Test" is some twenty-ten's analogue of their early tape, radio n modulator mash-ups, then this track carries a distant echo of their all-to-brief incarnation as a Garage Band (albeit one that's been de-psychedelicised, stripped bare and left for dead - their rehersals taped on CCTV and played back on an old detuned TV-set).

Nick wears his heart on his sleeve here; he deliberately taps into what he calls "classic organ, drum-machine and bass-guitar trios like CV and YMG..." But what I really like about this so far (we're only two tracks in) is that - unlike some of the so-called 'hauntological' outfits/artists - so far, this music all sounds wonderfully un-ironic and non-wilful. It feels like the only conscious choices Nick initially made were which armfuls of gear he was going to bring down from the attic and lug into the garage.

Ekoplekz soundz incredibly sincere and unselfconscious, wh/ is more than I can say about...well, fill yr own names in here.

I really want to stop talking about CV and so forth now, because it's unfair and I'm unnecesarily casting a shadow over Nick that he doesn't deserve to sit inside. Step out into the sunlight, mate...because things start getting really interesting, I think, with track 3: "Empty 3 Ex". Wonky (with a small 'w') organ echo-loops slide in and out of focus, lapping each other, over-lapping: it's like some Radio Repair-Shop version of Steve Reich.

I really didn't fucking see that coming.

The filter-enveloped/wah-wah'd rhythm that lurks beneath "Rebus Neu" sits at some midpoint between crunch and squelch. I love the lo-fi filmic/minimal-but-ominous keyboard motif that hovers over it like a coda from some early-60's Romanian thriller.

(Some notes I wrote last week: "....there's something vaguely East European about the creased loops - the crinkled repetition...cascading tones; not-quite organ-notes create a warped-tape waterfall of supposition...")

And I didn't expect the Shadows-esque (again, slightly cinematic) gtr-twang on "Mangoloid".

"Spirit Catcher" is beautifully creepy/sneaky-sounding with its chugging drum-machine, nagging flanged gtr-line and duelling oscillators.

What I love on this CD is hearing Nick trying different ideas on for size. He's not content with constantly locking onto one particular sound-mode. Some work better than others, obviously, but the best stuff is terrific. Everything is relatively short; some tracks have a strange, gleaming shine or even seem to twinkle ("Withered Spool"); others are murky, mucky, clunky ("Grubstep").

(I'm listening to "Styloskronk" right now and it's great to hear him stretching out, playing an electric-bass, starting to layer sounds - interjections - that weave in and around each other.)

I'm intrigued to see where Nick takes all this.

If I actually had some spare time I'd like to co-produce some Ekoplekz tracks - except that I can't, uh, actually 'produce' lol. I can't ever remember thinking to myself "Cor, I'd really like to produce that band!", so that says something in itself. Though I'm not entirely sure what.

Nice one, Nick.