Been getting deep into this all this Grey Area business lately.
Plenty to explore if you haven’t already. And note the new rules of the game; a lot of it in 3/4 time signature, all phasing polyrhythms, long slow release pressure builds, some of it keyed in precisely to 127.51bpm (don’t ask me why?), most at 85/170bpm.
Sadly for me, most of my music listening these days is done in my single cab pick-up on long boring commutes, but having a new monster sub-woofer put in recently (under my seat, the only space for it) has totally transformed the experience. It’s now a monstrous, enclosed bass chamber! and all this Grey Area stuff seems made for it. Actually turns my drives into a full on psychedelic trips, where I float at high speed on this magic carpet of sub bass while the tracks undulate and progress like the contours and camber of the motorway. Probably more dangerous than drink driving heh, but it’s even better driving home at night.
Can’t get enough of this tune. Defies classification really, despite being tucked on the end of an industrial techno 12″. Definitely points the way to somewhere new I feel. Austere, haunting, and with big low end for the sound systems. Once again “moving in several directions at once”! (Fast tempo but somehow adrift on katabatic winds?)
Aquarian massively on point again and he’s upped the bass, yet again, bigtime. Seems to do it everytime. First listen you think ‘ho-hum’, all a bit techno formalist, but then you hear his signature mastery of teasing out the build and tension and it’s really on the breakdown and second drop at the 5:00+ mark that the track lights up and reaches full dancefloor velocity; the wicked, totally infectious, chopped breakbeat shuffle that he’s so good at. Minimal ingredients, maximal results.
I’d pretty much forgotten all about the original Zhark Recordings (and overlooked many a tune having now gone back and checked the back-catalogue). Still heads down, ploughing their furrow. Quality murky broken beat techno-step with aircraft hangar sized spatial dynamics and vocal incantation drift and acidic squelch. It expertly builds up the arms-outstretched, backwards free-fall into the k-hole. Proper dark.
I picked up on a lot of solid gems from one of Manni Dee’s shows on Rinse back in June (recommended by our always-on-the-case ZFE of course!) most in a deep “industrial” techno vein, but it’s not so much the category that matters, more the avalanche boom and thud of the huge warehouse reverbs applied to the low end and kicks that releases the oppressive tonnage onto the dancefloor (real or imagined). The syncopated broken beats, fuzz ‘n’ grind and paranoid trill of “Scent of Decline” is my personal fave here, but also feeling the breakbeat combo on “Rumination”.
Props to Energy Flash and cohort for digging out a fine long read on the early ’90s Roman techno scene, (I would never have found that myself). All the heads quoted seem to keep it humble and being a fan of that sound/era it’s refreshing to read a historic appraisal that doesn’t ultimately veer into hyperbole and making the balanced conclusion that there was no legacy (and why should there always be one after all?) – it was just the time and place, “a style generated by a specific period, by a limited number of people.”
Inspired by the above, I pulled out a 1997 (maybe ’98?) issue of the French techno ‘zine L’ultime Atome from my archives and scanned up two long(ish) interviews here with lynchpins Marco Passarani and the brothers Fabrizio & Marco D’Arcangelo. For French speakers only (and Discogs nerds), sorry people.
(Note aside: Lory D’s new album….don’t even go there).
Passarani P1 / Passarani P2 / Passarani P3
D’Arcangelo P1 / D’Arcangelo P2
I’ve always thought there’s a touch of Just William (as opposed to Action’s ‘Kids Rule OK’ – showing my age here heh) about these Perth lads. Nothing particularly burly (as some have said) or threatening at all, but more like opening the back door and finding two scruffy urchins standing on your step covered in mud with big grins on their faces, looking like they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards; they tell you they’ve made something for you and from behind their backs they bring out…a mud pie! (or a 12″ even!) Cheeky chappies, always getting up to mischief, that sort of thing.
Their output gets filed as techno, but a lot of it plainly isn’t by a long shot. With the amount of mucky breakbeats and broken beats they toss around on each release it’s almost, dare I say it, often more breakcore-ish (in its freestylishness) if not a nod even to the days of Jungle Tekno? (check out last year’s ‘An Outrageous Fate Type’ and ‘DJ Ultra Greatsword’ EPs and make up your own minds).
There’s also an almost couldn’t-care-less, smeared-out, bleary veneer to their productions which also feeds this particular image of mine, not entirely pleasantly sometimes either. A bit like the stale fart fug coming from a teenage playstation/wank pit den; you just want to open all the windows and let some fresh air in. It’s as if they have their outputs set permanently through some low-pass filter? or maybe they’re just up all night and bombed off their heads on strong weed?
But that’s their style I guess – bass murk and rumblings a plenty and a kind of artful, semi-chaotic, looseness rather than the crisp, often sterile, punch and sheen of other genres/producers – and it definitely sets them apart from the rest of the techno massive.
It’s a no brainer really but ‘Fallout’ is the obvious stand out banger for me with its old school break/rave hoover and air raid sirens.