17 August 2011
Ekoplekz - Intrusive Incidentalz Vol 1
Okay, (non) pop psychoanalysis time again. Can't resist. I listen to an Ekoplekz release and these things just keep flooding.
I'm really sorry / not sorry at all.
When Memowrekz was nominated for The Uranus Music Prize 2011, I joked on twitter that it was the pop album on that list... well, this brooding, black stutter of a record is Nick aka Ekoplekz's response. This isn't pop. This makes a Mouse out of Maus.
The title is revealing: throwaway and heartfelt, this is certainly intrusive (this is not ambient, except in the sense of enveloping) and it is a little incidental*, a little sketchy in both senses of the word (cf everything else by Ekoplekz) but there's more to it than that. There's something else here. This is Nick unleashing his noise horde and the title might almost be read as a minor apology, a little note to the many fans out there that says: don't worry, this isn't the real Ekoplekz album, this is a sidetrack, an open note, a few preliminary dashes,
I can remember Coil, the pressure of following Love's Secret Domain crushing them, releasing the Black Light District album; Aphex Twin scurrying into evermore oblique identities and eyewinks; Global Communications doing the same...
This is conjecture, of course. I know Nick pretty well but I haven't spoken to him about this. I could be way off mark, it might even be offensive, though it's definitely not intended in that way. Maybe he doesn't give a shit or feel any kind of pressure but something makes me think that my pop comment pulled at a few wires that were already sticking out... this feels like a deliberate attempt to destabilise, to show us that we haven't got Ekoplekz yet... maybe he's worried that those scary hauntological folks will adopt him against his will like a Madonna child...
...and wrestling works well as a metaphor for how this album sounds as well. This is a suffocatingly intense album, leavened only the relatively short track times. It's maybe not as suffocatingly intense as say this little monster but it's still a great credit to PunchDrunk that they are releasing LPs as uncompromising as this one (and their earlier 12" was also a lot more difficult than the Memowrekz stuff or the earlier tapes/CDrs).
A couple of tracks (mine's a white label, I don't know which track is which) sound like a human kidnap victim struggling inside a deep metal coffin, just audible, almost giving up on ever being rescued; some of the rest sound like electronic instruments being scraped across the floor, followed by a Copicat. On one track, the levels flip all over the place, causing a minor neuro-headache as I tried to follow. Throbbing Gristle's 2nd Annual Report is also referenced extensively here and in some of my favourite tracks there's a groove of real, degraded menace and a definite feel of being recorded on a condenser mic somewhere across the room...
There's one track which is lighter than the others and I wonder if this'll be the next Ekoplekz direction**. This one could almost be something off Aphex's second album; loops rolling and slipping off one another, slowly sliding in and out of phase... and it's especially interesting, I think, that the next track sawtooths these gentle melodies off at the neck... a vicious assault, worthy of Maldoror.
If you liked the previous Ekoplekz releases you'll probably like this one too, unless you haven't really been listening too closely; the signature sounds are all there, just a little more corroded, even less beat driven and definitely murkier and more difficult than its predecessors (which are now definitely pop by comparison). There's still the odd beautiful, simple, melody in here but this time they aren't foregrounded and are forced to struggle their way to the surface. Sometimes they don't get there. I like that.
((((((((( NOTE: I've just re-read my first Ekoplekz review (may be the first Ekoplekz review! I'm an early adopter) and I've already mentioned a lot of the stuff I've been on about here; this is just like a bigger, slightly uglier cousin, a cousin attacked by viruses in utero... )))))))))
The cover tells you a lot about whether you want this or not. Look at it, decide at that moment. You won't be disappointed, either way.
*incidental, of course, also relates to emerging Sea Devils and Silurians and the kind of screeches they documented on The Stone Tape
**this won't happen; the next release will be noisier still, will be powerelectronics via Suicide organdrawlsssssss