Stave – After The Social EP (inc. Regis Remix) [RPTCH]
REPITCH‘s latest release is a weighty four-track from Downwards affiliate Jonathan Krohn, aka Stave. Krohn hails from the historical city of Chicago, born and bred, though is one of the few exports in experimental techno to come from the US. Moreover, for a city that is famously remembered for its significance to jazz and house, it might seem odd, but also a relief, that the city offers much more than its stereotyped identity. For a scene that is so concentrated within continental Europe, there are still interesting projects existing outside of the region. Despite the geographical distance, it has not been the first time that influences from North America and Canada have embedded themselves within Europe’s vast network of artistic collectives…
Krohn’s EP, entitled ‘After The Social’, transgresses the boundaries between techno and punk; though in actuality, the real existence of these ‘boundaries’ in the first place is questionable. In more lucid terms, what this EP brings to the
table is something readily geared for the dance-floor, but rooted in a punk sound-world. Prevalent features are brutal kick drums and heavily distorted guitar-laden motifs. The EP is accompanied by an excellent remix from eminent UK techno producer and Downwards co-founder Karl O’Connor, alias Regis.
A1 begins with an industrial flavoured drum loop, characterised by its thudding kick, saturated hats, and burgeoning middle voices. A descending guitar line sputters callously into the gutter, almost in complete self-interested apathy. Grating metal scrapes claw over the top of the mix, while underneath mechanistic gestures bellow and contort. A strong opening to the EP.
A2, Regis’s remix of ‘Hardened Chord’, notches things up a level; amping up the atmosphere through ominous pad suspensions and a more epic (and masterful) arrangement of elements. The UK stalwart turns what was an already accomplished track into a chugging power-house, re-conceived, and fully realised. There’s more venom in the kick, and the descending guitar motif is brought further forward in the mix to make it more audible.
The brilliant opening offers an introductory voice recording and the shuffling of human activity. This seemingly mundane reflection is interrupted suddenly with the kick up against a dark canvas of scribbles and seething soundscapes. The kick marches on as rough noise pans from both sides, rising through the two-minute mark. Where Krohn opens the track with the guitar motif, Regis eases it in over two-minutes later. This gives precedence to the militant four-to-the-floor, while rebuilding the texture. The change in meter at 03:35 is subtle and effective work, switching the beat to introduce the next section. Underlying voice samples bring to the fore images of industrialisation, armament, and dystopia. Whether O’Connor’s music is a direct manifestation of his DIY, counter-culture ethics or not, what is clear is the focussed and unwavering artistic vision that O’Connor creates his music with.
The B-side begins with ‘Circle Pit’. This one steams forward with brutal disregard; the sonic space is dominated by a gritty rhythmic hook, subsumed in its own glorious filth. As the drum loop bulldozes forward, a simple melody yawns into the chasm, almost like a war-cry. The listener may bask in a much needed breakdown around the three-minute region, where the texture is stripped down to the war-cry idea. It’s not long before the machine resumes its course headstrong into darker lands. This one is destined to obliterate dance-floors,
The final track on the EP takes a slightly different turn though is still encompassed by the EP’s overall aesthetic. If the past three tracks were an industrial assault from the metropolis, then this is the damning conclusion to a cold-blooded conflict. It’s almost like entering a roaring furnace, facing the very gates of Hell, flames licking at your skin and no signs of escape. This is not the place for sugar-coated fairytales or lighthearted musings. The alternating bass-line dwells menacingly between two intervals while the machine-gun kick launches rounds of iron into the concrete walls. Again, great textural work underpins the music here, with impressive sound design – convoluted and oppressive, yet clearly managed and defined.
This release may be a taxing listen for some, but many would be wrong to dispute its technical and musical merits. Krohn balances between the noise and techno camps incredibly effectively – something that, sadly, many are unsuccessful at doing. The EP finds a warm home on the REPITCH imprint; a daring and promising label that is run by Italy’s Ascion, Shapednoise and D.Carbone. ‘After The Social’ celebrates their fifth release as a label, and reflects patient and considered approach to releases. Though the label was only established in 2011, pulling in names to the likes of Mike Parker, Sleeparchive, Regis, and AnD for their releases goes to show that these guys really mean business. A very promising start indeed…
[ Links – REPITCH – Soundcloud – Vinyl/Digital – Stave – Regis ]