Strobe/Flutter (?)

I was pondering with a mate not so long ago about this ‘development’ that I increasingly heard in 2018 – possibly? or maybe not? of this ‘Strobe’ or ‘Flutter’ style. I hesitate to tag ‘-core’ onto the end of it (‘coz it doesnt have anything near the violence of filterless gauloises Speedcore) and it’s more pulsing and luminescent somehow…almost going beyond discernable beats? I don’t even know if any of this connects in any way to any of the drilling and fracking of the Splitter/Extratone scene? – you’d have to speak to DJ Balli about that. Nevertheless, I saw two disparate name checks of La Peste last year (coming from a Kerridge release blurb and in the PR for that Szare release on Different Circles) so dots are undoubtedly being joined, however feintly, from camp to camp, in surprising new coalitions.

I mean it’s obviously not theta waves, because you can’t hear those! but you feel almost like it’s tapping into some neural, oscillatory, binaural pattern? The drilling is all around us in every day life anyway, from the roadworks in the street outside your window to the hospital (case in point, my poor old Mum recently went through a battery of MRI tests and she messaged me after the first one and said “It sounded just like your music!”).

In fact my mate and I had already chatted about it casually a year or so ago and it was something we were detecting (in bits of 2017 Mumdance sets etc) but there now seems to be enough of a continuum of the device/pattern that, if you were so inclined, you could (almost) make a whole set of it. Which is when you have to ask; is it now evidence of an emerging genre/style? or just a recurring moment, a trope, of studio frustration when faced with the strictures of the orthodox grid of techno and the various production/editing platforms and the cul de sacs you get led up using them. Those of you reading this who have experience of trying to produce your own tracks will surely be familiar with the quick sand feeling of getting bogged down in the micro editing process of the Midi beat grid – and that ‘fuck it’ moment when you you just paint a whole line of 1/32th or 1/64th etc. blocks across the bar to see what happens, in the hope it offers you a stick to grab at. It often gets you out of the hole. A bit like banging an Amen over the top of your struggling composition heh.

Anyway, here’s my selection of tunes from the past year (except the Reeko and die Angel tracks which were 2017). I’m sure it’s only the tip of an iceberg if you dive deeper. Drop me line if you have any others….

01) Reeko: Engendrado (Avian, 2017)  This tune is pretty mesmeric and fascinating IMHO. Essentially a looped field recording (as far as I can make out) that rises from some kind of primordial soup and turns into full on psychedelic delta/theta/alpha/beta/whatever-suggestive waves of strobing pummel.

02) Korridor: Opening (Northern Electronics)  A high speed Gysinesque Dreamachine journey into stroboscopic flicker. “Tense minimalist design…an architecture that lets austerity scream.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

03) Ontal: Vigilante (Horo)  Surely his strongest and best release to date? Absolutely superb dynamic tension. In this case the drilling and rattlesnake percussion seems to free him completely and new territory is definitely found on the other side. (Even perhaps on the first track ‘Ikari’? although it’s not a continuous flutter).

04) Monotronique: Overdrome (Opal Tapes)  This one’s a bit of a cheap trick. All surface.

05) Core Beliefs: He Preferred to Kill His Son to Stay Alive (Phormix)  Feed belts of screeching, howling machinery spooling out of control on the production line.

06) Chevel: The Call (Different Circles)  Softer, cleaner, housier, more ‘designer’ but nonetheless… and bits of the Szare release that followed this one?

07) Ben Frost: All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated (Mute)  Off the (pointlessly) ‘produced by Steve Albini’ EP. What a pretentious, beardy, hipster dingbat (Frost not Albini). The flutter kicks in around the 4:00 mark.

08) die Angel: Papyrus (Cosmo Rhythmatic, 2017)  The highbrow ‘arty farty’, electronic festival/noise take on this? I’m sure if you wade through the Mego back catalogue you can find shed loads of this kind of thing?

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