Subvaritrax / Various
[SUBV002, 2005] SUBVARITRAXâ?¢ is a new form of treatment for Sonic Mediocrity Overexposure (SMO). SUBVARITRAXâ?¢ works by providing a mix between emotionally-poignant-yet-sonically-dense IDM, and scientifically formulated, provocatively glitchy minimal techno. With contributions from Quench (Funckarma), Ochre, Tim Koch, edIT, Kero, Matthew Mercer and others, SUBVARITRAXâ?¢ is a new type of neurostimulant proven to help people with SMO as well as being an enjoyable listen in it's own right. Ask your abstract electronic music specialist if SUBVARITRAXâ?¢ is right for you. REVIEWS: 'Though one is struck initially by Subvaritraxâ?¢'s distinctive pharmaceutical packaging, the comp's presentation is trumped by the potency of the medication itself. Virtually a primer for current electronic music trends, the release collects what could be the best bits from imaginary comps by Merck, Neo Ouija, Spectral Sound, and M-Nus into an 80-minute, 17-track set. Such largesse is often wearying but [it] maintains interest by extending the stylistic range beyond a single genre... Sparkling streams of glistening melodies unfurl throughout Phylum Sinter's (Detroit-based Christopher Todd) 'Monastic Phase,' Sense's (Melbourne musician Adam Raisbeck) 'Gift,' and Ochre's (Chris Leary) buoyant epilogue 'Copacetia' while boisterous breaks splatter and flail in tracks by Marshall Watson and Quench (aka Funckarma, Netherlands-based Don and Roel Funcken). edIT's (Ed Ma, Planet-Mu) fabulous stutter-crunk oasis 'Spare Spork' is an album highlight, as is ... [the] Quantazelle cut 'Late Blazing Kinch Theme,' an entrancing intertwine of scurrying percolations and harp melodies. On the techno front, Frederique Garvin drops twitchy, bass-throbbing machine-funk in 'Not So Hot,' Derek Michael coaxes whirrs and groans from his gear in 'Similak Jiggles,' and Matthew Mercer and Detroit Underground label head Kero (Sohail Azad) take schaffel strolls in their respective outings. While R_Garcia's gleefully stomping, arcade-flavoured 'Honkeywrench' impresses too, the album's peak arrives with Popkan's (Tom Erdmann) 'Broken Lighter,' a tasty sampling of funky, M-Nus-styled minimal house. While Erdmann's micro-sampled field of blips, smears, and croaks sounds incredible, it's the little kick he adds to the tail end of the warping bass line that's pure genius. A terrific outing by the Chicago-based subVariant imprint, the 'instrumental neuro-stimulant' Subvaritraxâ?¢ more than makes good on it's promise to treat Sonic Mediocrity Overexposure (SMO) with a therapeutically forward-thinking mix of melodic IDM and glitchy minimal techno.' -Ron Schepper, TEXTURA. ---------- 'Phylum Sinter's 'Monastic Phase' starts the gentle release into your bloodstream with tender melodies drifting in a free-form solution of squishy beats and rain-kissed tones. Marshall Watson recommends a 'Fall Without Change,' a gravity-free undulation of synthesizer and frayed beats that moves like a heat wave across still landscapes. Label-owner Liz McLean Knight who records as Quantazelle (as well as being the creative force behind the jewelry line Zelle and attendant online shop, Fractalspin.com) slips us a dose of 'Late Blazing Kinch Theme,' a vaguely Aphex Twin rhythm scattered across harp melodies and subdermal beat dappling. It'll hitch in your throat and leave a resonating hum that will percolate through your brain for days. She also offers 'Braking (Hushed),' a gurgling lurching tune that sounds like electric wind chimes being shaken by a low magnitude earthquake. Nothing traumatic, just chaotic movement given sound. Randy Garcia's 'Honkeywrench' keeps catching my ear as it dances and jabbers about. Anchored by the spitting sound of speaker feedback from local RF signals (and I get it enough at the day job that I keep thinking that this track is just f***ed up and not cleverly recycling modern noise detritus), R_Garcia throws up squiggling pong melodies that flit about with joyous abandon. There's a middle of the Subvaritrax dose that goes all woozy on you with house rhythms skewed with jittery noises and squelchy bursts of liquid funk as Matthew Mercer, Popkan, Kero and Derek Michael ooze into your system. Tim Koch's 'Minor Rendered' puddles with aquatic dub while ringing with minor chords that are flung up like fireworks to hang in the sky. A sinuous funk beat slithers into the room and coils around our ankles, lending a lurching stagger to our dance steps. While Zainetica delivers a swooping aerial ride filled with the guttering echoes of synthesized voices in 'Bytesize,' Sense's 'Gift' is a orchestral wash of electronic tones and fluffy melodies. As Set in Sand's 'A Echo of An Mistake' (sic) warbles and threatens to lose track of it's rhythmic center (yet retains it in the end as the effort is to shift you slightly and not yank the chair out from beneath you), edIT's 'Spare Spork' shares no such illusions. The beats in 'Spare Spork' stab at you with their guttering intensity, echoing in the background like ping pong balls ricocheting off concrete walls. The lonesome guitar melody in the foreground is dragged in the wake of the beats, it's melancholy secondary to the gutter-jerk of the affected beats. Quench keeps some of the manic energy afforded by edIT (this is the end of the dosage after all, somnambulant effects must be wiped away) but channels it as BPMs. Shivering beats collapse and percolate like hot water in a coffee maker while digital melodies churn and curl around one another like snakes, like Mobius patterns. SubVariant takes a very serious approach to presentation and the limited release of Subvaritrax comes as a Rx package, a personalized prescription written just for your mental state. 'Play entire CD twice daily or as needed' read the instructions on the plastic casing. Would that all medicines that make you feel better go down so easily (and the final glistening water electronica of Ochre eases you back from your SubVariant-induced slumber). This is a heartily recommended panacea for the beat-broke blues.' - Mark Teppo, IGLOO BIOS: PHYLUM SINTER Expect an uncommon blend of glitched-out beats, custom DSP fiddling, proper melodies, and memorable hooks delivered by Phylum Sinter, AKA Christopher Todd, from Detroit, MI. He has been exploring the connection between sound and imagery for the past five years and has contributed tracks to the Modsquare, Nishi, and Post Under netlabels MARSHALL WATSON Recently transplanted from Seattle to New York, Marshall Watson has released a full-length on the UK-based Highpoint Lowlife label, The Time Was Later Than He Expected. 'Watson creates a realm of powerful living and breathing synthesizers over the top of a crunchy base of electrical pulses, snaps, and clicks.' QUANTAZELLE Along with running a jewelry design company (Zelle), an online magazine (Modsquare), and the subVariant label, Liz McLean Knight produces bright, melodic IDM of the best sort. She takes a funky machine-noise groove, combines it with a pretty melody and adds a sprinkling of glitched-out textures. Think along the lines of early Autechre, Aphex Twin, or Four Tet, with some fleeting glitchy-minimal-techno moments. R_GARICA As musically non-conformist as they come, Randy Garcia's trademark is his ability to shift his fighting stance and throw fierce jabs of multi-faceted musicality. Fans are often surprised & delighted to see where Randy will be musically -- sometimes wielding a guitar, bass, or drum set in lieu of his standard IDM/laptop association -- but always delivering an incendiary performance unlike the stereotypical hunched-over software geeks who have been known to sacrifice music at the hands of math. Randy is all music, all the time--even running his own label, Nophi Records. FREDERIQUE GARVIN For the six minutes Garvin's track lasts, the world is euphoria, lust, and throbbing bass bins belching a kick-drum kingdom of ass-shaking glorious wonder. Producing also as Atropa and a member of the metal band, American Heritage, Scott Shellhamer pairs his musical proclivity with his technical prowess, creating emotional sketches as stirring as they are booty-shaking. MATTHEW MERCER Matthew Mercer was classically trained on the organ and piano before transitioning to a Macintosh to create original music, most recently with an 'anything goes' approach to sampling. Fragments and bits of pre-existing music are combined with original and concrete sounds within a rhythmic, structured context, often as compatible with a dancefloor as it is engaging electronic listening music. He has released music through Forte Records, Ware Records and Neutonmusic, in addition to being a core member of the loose design and art collective, four 09. POPKAN Taking a break from dancing and grabbing a drink, you can see the infectious energy pouring out of Tom Erdmann as he deftly flips knobs and crosses faders in his mind-bogglingly complex array of analog gear and samplers. His take on funky minimal house is boundary-pushing in it's delivery and sound: microsampled vocal bits are woven in with glitched-out noise-spatters with the melodic deftness of Matthew Herbert paired with the aesthetic of German minimal techno. He is also part of the Meiotic collective and has released an EP on the Textone netlabel alongside such luminaries as Ricardo Villalobos and Håkan Lidbo. KERO The Detroit/Windsor area brings us another groundbreaking artist unwilling to settle for the sounds of mediocrity and cliché so common in today's electronic music universe. Inspired by unusual sonic landscapes and complex sequencing techniques Sohail Azad developed a taste for the more experimental side of electronic music bringing the sounds of Autechre, Aphex Twin and Richard Devine to the virgin ears of many young Detroiters. With releases on the German labels Bpitch Control, Shitkatapult, Sender, and the Detroit labels Ghostly International, Lowres, and Livewire, Kero is also a talented video artist and an in-demand remixer for acts like Metamatics, Jimmy Edgar, Funckarma, Apparat and Venetian Snares and runs the Detroit Underground label. DEREK MICHAEL Established as one of Canada's premier DJ act's, holding residencies at the world's most prestigious venues such as Club Tresor (Berlin) and Tokyo's Club Core, since 1996, Derek Michael (aka DM) has consistently incorporated influences from the bizarre to the sublime. His studio tracks, released through Hor-Zu, Sender and most recently, critic's darling Detroit Underground Records, reflect Michael's deep knowledge and vast historical understanding of Western musical practice, a knowledge which he has consistently shared with audiences around the world. ZAINETICA London-based Mark Streatfield says the inspiration for 'Bytesize' was to do an updated version of LFO's 'What is House?' with a departure point from the Bytes album by Black Dog. 'I wanted to go back to the roots of what the early Warp artists were influenced by, which was largely Detroit and Chicago techno and house,' he says. It is only fitting that Mark would release 'Bytesize' on a Chicago label that appreciates his aesthetic. He also runs the Rednetic label and has contributed to Boltfish's catalog. SENSE Sense is Adam Raisbeck a 30-year-old musician from Melbourne with an impressive discography including releases on Neo Ouija, Merck, Cactus Island, and appearances on many more. A fixture in the Australian electronic music scene, he has performed with such notable artists as Aphex Twin, Bochum Welt, Machinedrum, Dabrye, Com.A and others. Running the EEM label he's released music by artists such as Lackluster, Secede, Tim Koch, and Vim. TIM KOCH Combining a distinct digital aesthetic, a fascination with 8-bit machines, and textures and melodies reminiscent of pioneering UK labels like Warp and Rephlex, Tim Koch has reached a commendable status in the international electronic scene. He has appearances on labels such as Merck, Component, Seeland, and Lucky Kitchen, and full length releases on Defocus, Aural Industries, and n5md. SET IN SAND Set in Sand, one of the many projects of Matt Yarrington, emerged from the late 90's Midwest electronic scene, crafting a sound years beyond the minimalist techno aesthetic that dominates the abstract electronic music genre. By combing elements as diverse as Steve Reich-esque sculptures of found sound and hip-hoppish boom-bap style beats with the sharp digital textures and densely-programmed insanities of IDM pioneers like Autechre and Aphex Twin, Set in Sand bends genres in a satisfyingly edgy-yet-headnodding manner. EDIT With a debut release on µ-Ziq's own UK based Planet-Mu label entitled Crying Over Pros For No Reason, Ed Ma unleashes a signature style that crosses cut-up rhythms, crunked out beats and melodic funk. In the past Ma was a resident DJ at Konkrete Jungle, and Dublab Radio. During that time he produced and recorded for some of the finest in leftfield hip-hop such as, Busdriver (Ninja Tune), Sole (Anticon), Dr. Oop (Black Love), and Emanon (illBoogie). QUENCH Quench is a side project of Don and Roel Funcken, the Netherlands-based brothers who record under Funckarma and have released on various labels such as Dub, U-cover, Neo Ouija, Musik Aus Strom, and Delikatessen. OCHRE Ochre is 25 year-old Chris Leary, whose Sound System Bangers Volume 1, has been well-received by music critics and fans alike (the curiously inapt title notwithstanding), and has enjoyed radio exposure on Mary-Ann Hobbs' 'Breezeblock' show on BBC Radio 1, as well airplay on London's Xfm and Resonance FM stations. His latest full-length is A Midsummer Nice Dream on Toytronic and has appeared on the UK labels Rednetic Recordings, Boltfish Recordings, Audiobulb Records and the US-based Unschooled Records.