‘My Party’, the closing track on Errorsmith’s album “Superlative Fatigue“, is nothing more than an effects laden voice looping “party, my party”, quarter note hand clap percussion and excursions into digital scat. It’s an ultra-minimalist earworm, a collision of pop music hook and digital sound poetry. More than a playful excursion at the end of the album though, it focuses the seven tracks of club music reconstruction that have come before.
Modern pop music is built on contradictions. Lady Gaga and Madonna revel in and amplify the synthetic, yet success in pop depends on resonating on a human, personal level. Reams have been written breaking down ‘the perfect pop song’ into almost mathematical formulas, but the ultimate difference between huge hit and hugely terrible is intangible.
On his first album in thirteen years, Errorsmith (Erik Wiegand) revels in these contradictions – brazenly rearranging pop’s algorithms and synthetics into euphoric party music for an imagined future. Third track, ‘I’m Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable‘ is an exercise in pure momentum, ecstatic rave synths over fiendishly tight rhythm patterns. Reflecting the optimism of its title with no sense of irony, it latches onto the positivity at the heart of dance music.
Wiegand’s unlikely penchant for utterly bizarre hooks creeps up throughout Superlative Fatigue. ‘Retired Low Level Internal Server‘ welds clusters of kick drums to a synthesised melody which could have been lifted from traditional Japanese Shamisen Music. Despite its meandering form, the tune burrows into your psyche and lodges there, returning long after the record has stopped playing. This is a record of high-concept abstract club music, but its heart is rooted to pop’s soul.
"Utopianism and dystopianism have permeated through the work of experimental and avant-garde composers for generations, but Errorsmith knows that the need for hooks and beats to move to won’t go away in the future, they’ll just sound totally alien."
A common trait among both utopian and dystopian writers, from Thomas More and Charles Fourier to Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, was their ability to both imagine and vividly depict fantastical worlds or parallel universes with just enough familiarity to our own to seem plausible. Errorsmith creates the pop music for these worlds. Utopianism and dystopianism have permeated through the work of experimental and avant-garde composers for generations, but Errorsmith knows that the need for hooks and beats to move to won’t go away in the future, they’ll just sound totally alien.
This sense of audio for an imagined future is felt throughout Superlative Fatigue. By day Wiegand makes synthesizers for Native Instruments. His connection with technology dominates the double LP, shaping its totally distinct, high definition textures and palette. Opening two tracks, ‘Lightspeed‘ and ‘Who-is’ both feature odd voice sounds which are twisted, bent, ripped apart and smashed together into bizarre melodic hooks over glitching footwork beats. It’s virtually impossible to tell what properties of the sound – timbre, pitch or some combination – are actually being manipulated, allowing something unfamiliar to form from a common sound source.
Echoes of familiar club sounds crop up throughout the record, whether its hints of minimal techno, acid or the previously mentioned footwork. However, they exist more as launching off points or references than predictable blue prints. Club culture is increasingly ghettoised, microscenes latching onto a BPM or production style and rarely venturing beyond. By both foregoing adherence to such narrow parameters, and completely distancing his sonics from any sense of retro nostalgia, Errorsmith’s new record sits on the convergence of these genre boundaries.
It’s insightful that Superlative Fatigue is released on PAN, the same label that put out Rashad Becker’s two “Traditional Music of Notional Species” albums, as they provide perhaps the best point of comparison for Errorsmith’s music. Becker arranges implacable sound sources into imagined ecosystems, resulting in music which feels like a nature documentary on a parallel universe. Superlative Fatigue is similarly detached from its surroundings, sounding like beats for AI to dance to.
Electronic pioneers Kraftwerk and Jeff Mills both made electronic music which was completely detached from the scenes around them. Their sounds strove towards the future, but were also firmly connected to ideals of popular music – of melody and dancing. With Superlative Fatigue, Errorsmith has joined this tradition, producing a record of hi-tech ravers which transcends its surroundings.
Keep an eye out for our interview and photo shoot with Errorsmith. Superlative Fatigue is out now, order a copy now via Bandcamp.
3. I’m Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable
5. Superlative Fatigue
6. Retired Low-level Internal Server
7. Internet of Screws
8. My Party