Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ekoplekz - Intrusive Incidentals Vol. 1 (2012)

All bands approach the recording of each new album in a different way. Some will gradually evolve, changing their overall sound as new influences seep in or line up changes take effect. Occasionally, a band makes a quantum leap forward throwing all of their new found sounds, skills or influences into the mix simultaneously. Others are cautious and make little change to their signature sound which, if it's original and great in the first place then what's wrong with that? Then there are those bands who have a very specifically defined set of influences - some as narrow as a single band from the past maybe or even just an album as a reference point. There are a few great recent examples of this modus operandi;

1. Burial. His first release - 2005's astonishing 'South London Boroughs' 12" - was a revelation at the time and still is to these ears. Mournful, dripping with equal parts melancholy and menace but always experimental with it's sounds and construction. His latest - 2012's 'Kindred' has changed little from that original blueprint. His influences and operating methods appear to be exactly the same from those employed 7 years ago. It's almost as if he's constantly tinkering with the same tracks, attempting somehow to find his own idea of what he hears in his head. It makes each subsequent release no less thrilling and exhilarating.

2. Dirty Beaches. Specifically the first four tracks on his latest album 'Badlands'. I recently played these tracks to my very good friend and all-round musical sage Teece who swore blind they were undiscovered demo recordings by legendary US proto-punk pioneers Suicide - right down to the lack of fidelity used liberally in the recording. Suicide haven't recorded for many years so why not take their sound in all it's scuzzed up '77 glory and write some new songs? Nothing's wrong with that idea of course if those songs are good… and 'Badlands' is an album you need to hear as soon as possible (if you haven't already) because it's indispensable.

So what has this to do with Ekoplekz? Well, Bristol's Nick Edwards certainly has honed his influences down to a very specific set of sounds. Think the earliest transmissions from one of Sheffield's finest innovators - Cabaret Voltaire circa '78 to '82. Think also Industrial and punk legends Throbbing Gristle (without whom so much of the music we listen to today simply wouldn't be here!). But Edwards doesn't just reference wholesale here, he plunders all the most interesting, unusual, original, unsettling and downright queazy bits to use as his starting point. He is a true mangler of electronics rather a musician per-se. His set-up consists of all manner of malfunctioning analogue electronics, effects units, pedals and so on which he uses to improvise and conduct his compositions upon. People have written much about his sound and mentioned all kinds of descriptions but nothing really seems to do it all justice. I can see where it's all coming from but it's where Ekoplekz takes each track that makes it so damn exciting to listen to. If either of these reference points mean anything to you then you should have this one on your hard drive as soon as possible.

Postscript - Ekoplekz are appearing at The Faktion curated evening at Sacred Trinity Church in Manchester UK on Sunday, May 6th. You should go and see him if possible (I most definitely will be!) and support him. Also worth seeking out is his mighty 'Memowrekz' collection on the always wonderful Mordant Music label - almost two hours of essential guerrilla audio deconstructions.

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