Jamie Teasdale, aka Kuedo, is an electronic musician based in Berlin. As one half of the duo Vex’d, he helped usher in a golden age of creative exploration in British dubstep. Kuedo’s most recent solo album, Severant, was released on Planet Mu.
Over the span of his previous two or three albums, Oneohtrix has been able to develop his own musical language—one which most obviously consisted of various arpeggios and Juno synth sounds. Those were also the elements people would use to describe his music in reviews and whatnot. You don’t really hear these sounds on Replica, but you do hear a unique musical voice and a continuing narrative to Oneohtrix’s exploration—and therefore a language that can’t be pinned down to instruments or individual sounds alone. For that reason, it’s hard to describe his voice exactly, so I think I’ll try and describe more the emotions the record invokes. At its core, Replica maintains a tension between elements that are pleasantly static and things that are constantly changing. It’s almost like watching something really immersive on television or on YouTube, being pulled into a certain world, but also being aware of yourself watching. It’s a two-fold presence of the work itself and it’s something I constantly feel when listening to this album. Replica is not just about what you’re hearing; it’s also about being aware of what you’re hearing, about the gulf between your reality and the one he’s presenting. This isn’t an intellectual awareness but more of an emotional one. It’s music that, for me, describes the flaws of escapism.
He achieves that, in my opinion, through an emphasis on elements of bittersweetness: the music oscillates back and forth between imagination and reality and the difference between the two becomes its emotion. Because Replica is loop-based, it feels hypnotic and circular—but in a very specific way, because the loops aren’t clean. Instead, they’re imperfectly interrupted by these abrupt events and sonic artifacts like small clips and digital distortion, which make it sound all the more homespun. Clearly, this album has nothing to do with over-glossed perfection. The samples themselves are often taken from eighties commercials and TV shows and are kept rough, but deployed in really brave ways, musically speaking. Often you’ll hear a sample appear completely naked, without any real tail or embedding or reverb or whatever. To me, these are the elements which establish the distance between the listener and the track at hand. This music isn’t escapist; it admits the flaws of this world and the utopian alternatives.
I admire Oneohtrix for his fearless use of samples and his ability to embrace flaws. It’s something that I feel I tried to do on my last album, Severant, but not enough. People describe Severant as futuristic and grand, but my original intention was for it to sound homespun and flawed in its grandeur, even though I’m not really sure it gets that point across. Replica undoubtedly achieves that. These days electronic music is often judged by its level of technical prowess—people have certain expectations about how well rendered things are supposed to sound . . . at least compared to other forms of music. To ignore those norms and expectations requires strength of mind and purpose, which is maybe the thing I respect most about this record. It‘s also just beautiful and can wonderfully envelop any space in which it’s played. ~