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Jan 00

Why I Like Vinyl Communications

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;or; Confessions Of A Gabber Fan

Or maybe it should be called “Why I Like Kid 606” because Vinyl Communications, as a music-releasing entity, is a bit hard to encapsulate in a relatively short article. With releases as disparate as Lockweld (lo-fi radio static noise), The Haters (unrelenting noise noise), Disc (CD Skipping noise), Gogogoairheart (60s/70s Joy Division-esque punk rock redone with a bit more distortion), Lesser (jungle noise), Operation Re-Information (Devo as techno act), and Kid 606 (gabber noise), the label can’t really be said to have a “sound” so much as a philosophy: weird odds and ends are good. Oh, and noise is a plus – the more noise, the bigger that plus. Well, I like weird odds and ends (and noise too), so it’s not so suprising that I like VC. What is surprising (to me anyways) is how much I like gabber, i.e., how much I like Kid 606’s “Don’t Sweat the Technics.”

Don’t Sweat the Technics came around at exactly the right time in my music listening/cataloguing/obsessing life – “Intelligent Dance Music” had rammed its head so firmly up its own arse that keeping track of it all (much less caring) had become more of a chore than a fun way to pass the time (Why do people still buy Squarepusher records? Why?). Basic Channel/Chain Reaction had sort of come and gone – not that they aren’t still great, but how many 12″s that go “hiss thud thud thud hiss thud thud thud” does one really need? (Personally, I settled on 8.) The Digital Hardcore thing was cool too, but it was getting a tad old – too much seriousness – “fuck the industry,” “Nazis suck,” “Fascism sucks,” “you suck” – OK guys, I got the point, loud and clear. A bit too loud and clear. I was ready for something new in my techno, and Kid 606 was happy to oblige with possibly the least expected remedy – gabber. Or should I say, GABBA.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Don’t Sweat the Technics is not a masterpiece. And DHR did do the gabber thing. The problem, though, was that it wasn’t fun. Ever. From the moment “I want to join a gang” opened up its unrelenting gabber whoomp-whoomp-whoomp on my happily bloody ears (complemented by some ridculously fast lo-fi amen breaks), though, I knew this record was going to be a fun ride. Fun. Got that, Alec Empire?

Gone was the pretension of IDM. Totally and completely. I mean, come on, he named one song “Kid 606’s Baadassss Underwater Dub Track” – that’s pretty straightforward and to the point. He named another song something too long to mention, but suffice to say it includes SCSI bears, riot grrrls, and the hardcore junglist massive, and the way that track’s purely synthesized bassline rumbles and soars through a happily distorted funland massages my fuzzy happy bone in all the right places. And then there is the centerpiece of the album “Don’t Sweat the Technics – Dubplatestyle” which does more with the gabber archetype in its 9 minutes of existence that I would have ever thought possible. The distorted 808 bass drum it opens with never disappears (if it did, I’d have to think of a dumb new name for the type of music Kid 606 is making), the screeching synthesizers are so trebly as to be almost ear-damaging (nota bene: if you ever want to clear a dancefloor, pull this thing out. Within 5 minutes, everyone will be gone – it physically hurts to hear it at earthshaking club style volume), but it has such propulsion, such variation, such goddamned bootyshaking qualities that 9 minutes doesn’t seem at all long.

Now, it would be nice if I could couch Kid 606 as the anti-IDM, doing what all those cats claim they’re doing but better, simpler, and (as cannot be overstated) more fun. Unfortunately that would sort of exclude Kid 606’s evil Twin, Jay Lesser, whose music is also a very good thing. Lesser doesn’t use gabber. He doesn’t use techno. What he does use, though, is jungle – specifically the amen break – and he manages to use it without an ounce of the pretention or bullshit currently clogging the IDM elite (Aphex Twin excluded). Take “Adios, Amen” wherein he completely deconstructs the amen into a twittering pile of distended limbs and clicky clicky fart noises. It’s not that good, but the message is loud and clear – move on guys. Please get a new idea – any new idea. Really. What’s even better about that message, though, is that on his earlier record “Welcome to the American Experience” he did the amen jungle thing, possibly better than any record I’ve ever heard (here it should be noted that I am a very selective jungle fan). His tracks are bizarre and expansive, never cliched, never dancefloor friendly, but always extremely engaging. But even better than the last even better is that tired jungle isn’t the only genre Lesser takes on and demystifies – on the aptly titled “Markus Popp can Kiss My Redneck Ass” he does Oval, squared. And it’s good. Real good. Seething, murky ambience with a bit of a drunk edge and the definitive CD skips – clearly not as good as diskont94 by Mr. Popp, but last I checked, Oval was on album #5. Lesser moved on after one song.

I guess then it’s becoming clear what I really like about VC – the fact that they are willing to tell the rest of techno’s auteurs to wise the fuck up and deal with the fact that people like fun music that’s interesting, danceable, and noisy, all at the same time. The pure adrenaline rush one gets from the gabber beat is not necessarily only for stupid kids in $200 sweatsuits sweating out their meth highs as most anti-trance, anti-gabber “intelligent techno” fans might have you believe, at least not if it’s done with style. And really, that rush is unequaled amongst all dance music – stripped down to the bone 808 bounce – pure aural kinetic energy. Just ask the folks at Tresor, or, for that matter, Pan Sonic. Unfortunately, the kind of people who collect Skam 12″s will probably never be convinced, but that’s OK, they’re already behind the times. Bounce guys. Have some fun. Avoid emo-rock fanboy lookalike-dom. Nobody cares about your Miles Davis records. What you should be caring about is people doing new and exciting things with their broken synths and samplers, and the VC electronic music crowd is definitely doing that (and more).

The essential Vinyl Communications:
Kid 606 – Don’t Sweat the Technics (Vinyl Communications)
Kid 606 – Gun Court 7″ (Wabana)
Kid 606/Omnibot – Unamerican Activity (Vinyl Communications)
Lesser – Welcome to the American Experience (Vinyl Communications)
Lockweld – Blueprint Theories (Vinyl Communications) (if only for the Kid 606 mix, which possibly tops even Don’t Sweat the Technics – Dubplatestyle for manic mix and match gabber)

Arthur Purvis, January 2000

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