As its name suggests, niche music relies on a downsized yet faithful community of hearers. As far as the industry goes, pushing for less harmonious forms of sound and boundary-pushing electronics – especially when it comes to a category of music mostly aimed at making people dance in clubs and festivals – naturally implies less budget and visibility, so obviously less profit.
No wonder why most of the labels dedicated to breaking norms and practices have firstly done it via the more flexible-way cheaper tape format as opposed to the risky business of putting out wax straight away. Amongst these, US label Always Human Tapes have been holding the fort with strength and poise, never quite coming close to quenching their thirst for off-standard sonics and unsettling oddities.
Their newest effort comes from a pair of likeminded genre-busters in the persons of Seagrave co-founder Blood Room and Polish experimentalist Micromelancolié. Taking care of the A-side, Tim Matts immediately immerses his listener in a mercurial pool of white noise, clicks and frizzles, before letting out a drove of raucous kicks and claps to lay out a much more UK-bass oriented minimalism. ‘Sun Pulse Equation‘ attacks with further impact but it’s on the next two cuts that Blood Room’s bold and adventurous insight fully blossoms.
Hitting just as hard and loud, the boisterous ‘Flood Heresy‘ follows further meandering stretches without easing the strain and shocks of this bumpy ride. Each kick resounds deep in the spine, each percussion hits right in the guts, and yet it’s a brutally pleasing gain in power. Still, ‘Fml Dad No Insurance‘ stands out as Matts’ highlight here: fusing full-on nostalgic pad swashes with a proper menacing dubby Bristolian spin to keep the vibe malevolent, this one ticks all the boxes.
Breaking the flip in on a much more inner-directed note, Micromelancolié goes in with a strong Janus-faced analogue slab: ‘Meltwater Pulse‘ starts as a crackling fire of sounds, tripping in confined, airless spaces, before radically morphing into an hypnotic slo-mo musing that blends the etherealness of Eno’s modular poetry with a tape-saturated trap like hip-hop rhythm as a fine contrapuntal interplay.
The aptly-named ‘Abyssal Memories‘ then makes for a nice interlude, but mostly preps the ground for ‘Hydrothermal Vents‘ to exhale its astonishing droney melancholia by way of heavy-textured pads that have nothing to envy to BoC’s most heart-rending classics or Autechre’s sorrowful ambient gems like ‘VLetrmx21‘. Masterstroke, this.
Closing things off with both artists involved, ‘Paraffin: Kroma Kodek‘ gets the Micromelancolié treat and nicely anchors the contrasting sense of strength and utter brittleness of this opus a little deeper. Avant-garde and ultimately daring, high up there with the best of leading-edge electronic music.
Creek Trax is out now, order a copy from Bandcamp.
A1. Blood Room – Shinran
A2. Blood Room – Sun Pulse Equation
A3. Blood Room – Flood Heresy
A4. Blood Room – Fml Dad No Insurance
AA1. Micromelancolié – Meltwater Pulse
AA2. Micromelancolié – Abyssal Memories
AA3. Micromelancolié – Hydrothermal Vents
AA4. Blood Room – Paraffin: Kroma Kodek (Micromelancolié Remix)
Discover more about Always Human Tapes on Inverted Audio.