Memory and its distortions have long lurked in the background of Lee Gamble’s music. His early albums, ‘Dutch Tvashar Plumes‘ and ‘Diversions 1994-1996‘, both dwelt as much on ideas, recollections and the psychoacoustics of old rave, jungle and techno music as they did the sonic imprints of the genres themselves.
Through heavy filtering and blankets of crackled samples they pulled to the forefront musical elements usually buried in the mix. At one moment hyper-focusing on the minutia of a track, the next zooming out to the role of a club documentarian capturing the ambience and context in which a track would have been delivered. Crisscrossing strands of amplified sensory response, imagined elements and the actual act of remembering, the albums created their own world which somehow mimicked the fabrications and reality of the listener’s memory.
2014’s ‘KOCH‘, Gamble’s most recent full length, continued this engagement with memory and the working of the mind, building stretched out tracks hooked to relentless loops, using repetition to twist and blur engagement over time. Mnestic Pressure is a term relating to the impact of collective and individual pressures on short term memory. It is no surprise that it also represents some of Gamble’s most abstract yet vivid work to date.
"Mnestic Pressure is a term relating to the impact of collective and individual pressures on short term memory. It is no surprise that it also represents some of Gamble’s most abstract yet vivid work to date."
Gamble’s Hyperdub debut is an evocation of disjointed memory strands, of attention spans shot to pieces through too much scrolling and trolling. While opener “Inta Center“, a stuttering mix of field recordings, warm pads and flattened jungle beats is relatively familiar, it quickly collapses into a formless cloud of sound. From there, Mnestic Pressure launches into “Istian“, “East Sedduke“, “23 Bay Flips” and “Swerva“. Seamlessly transitioning into each other, the four tracks refuse to stick to any clichéd house or techno kick patterns and beats, foregoing the familiarity of tested structures and following their own itinerant logic.
The rhythms stop and start, trail off on rhizomatic tangents before contracting back to clarity as snaps of synth and samples hover in and out. This isn’t some formless avant noise record though. A solid pulse and clear intention keep everything ultimately connected, however loosely, to a dancefloor. Placing the tracks both as futuristic deconstruction of club music norms and cutting evocations of the mind desperately clutching for a narrative in a series of unconnected recollections.
A feeling of information saturation dominates, of hyper sensitivity battling with blasé detachment. “Quadripoints” impossibly tight synth and percussion patterns become increasingly complex the closer you listen. Never quite settling, they’re the sound of a brain processing the rafts of conflicting information blasted at it on a phone screen or desperately struggling to pull together something tangible from disparate memories. In the same way, the abrupt diversity of the tracks, from the dub drenched electro-acoustics of “You Hedonic” to the massive, almost industrial beats of “UE8“, keep conjuring this sense of a mind trying to piece together isolated ideas and recollections into something solid.
As the record comes to a close, and reaches its most lucid with the DJ friendly, future jungle of “Ghost“, that moment of coherence finally arrives. The form is still surreal, the arrangement unpredictable, but clarity has finally come. It stands alone well as a track, but its placing in the album’s network of crossed pathways and fired off strands makes its impact truly massive.
Mnestic Pressure is scheduled for release 20th October on Hyperdub, order a copy from Bandcamp.
1. Inta Centre
3. East Sedducke
4. 23 Bay Flips
7. You Hedonic
9. Locked In
10. Ignition Lockoff
11. A Tergo Real
13. Déjà Mode