The Christmas period offers a chance for reflection. The briefest of pauses that allows focus on the whole, which the moment proves too focussed to reveal. With respect to the musical landscape, 2013 saw the breaking down of boundaries. Dubstep continued its journey towards jacking house and techno, the formerly rigid techno proved to mercurial – adept at house tempos or as an intimidating industrial force – and house itself cast off the shackles of prescribed templates. While this self-titled release on DVS1’s Mistress by Juxta Position isn’t an exhaustive representation of the current climate, that would be a rare event for a solitary outing, it does highlight the push away from strict genre pigeonholing.
Expectations are played to on “The Darkness”, as terse techno is the norm for anything associated with DVS1, sounding like a man with a tuba strapped to his lips, trapped in a small box with a diminishing air supply. Fists thump the side of the box in an urgent metronome and the muffled erratic brassy tones carry an air of distress. At this point a standard EP would scatter two or three similarly minded tracks through the rest of the release, yet “Mazury” neatly sidesteps paranoid blanket smothered techno. It opens the box, the midrange sparking into life as a goopy synth is squeezed through the fingers, with a tight electro framework that allows the low end to slide around gracefully while a flitting melody dances over the top. Bare bones house then makes up the final part of the package on “Mercy”, which is stripped back so far that it could feasibly be performed by a one armed drummer and a two fingered keyboardist, the repeated gospel plea of “have mercy, please” drawing maximum emotion from so little.
With techno, house and electro covered in one slice of vinyl, Juxta Position Vol 1 makes sense on a value for money logical level with versatility ensured, however Mistress’ manifesto of exploring less standard sectors brings much more than that. It is music you can connect to individually, collectively and from any listening context. This label certainly has a journey to keep an eye on over the course of 2014.