Covering Tracks is a regular series in which we ask our favorite producers and DJs to recommend ten new (and not so new) releases. Upending their DJ bag this week: junta rave architect and joint founder of the mighty Fifth Wall label, Hound Scales.
Siobahn – “Enhancer” [Nostilevo]
I grabbed this cassette from Heaven St in Brooklyn, it’s mutated techno perfection.
Dynamo Dreesen/Polynomial – “Gekløder” [Acido]
I don’t think this is actually that new, but Clone still has copies so fuck it. Easily my favorite ‘dance’ tune at the moment; straight oddball vibes that sound like the audio equivalent of early Cronenberg ooze.
Emily Faryna – “Call My Name” [Vinyl On Demand]
Also not that new, and considering it’s a reissue, extremely not new. This is filthy dubby industrial that is surprisingly beautiful, a true rarity.
Moonraker – Refracuity EP [Bruxist]
Simply the best sound design I’ve heard in a long time. It’s what Cao Fei should have had as the 24/7 soundtrack to RMB City exploration.
P.O.I. – “Call This Number” [L.I.E.S]
Tape mangled garage, what the fuck more do you want? Fresh ones comin’ to Fifth Wall soon.
Young Spray – “Rich As Fuck”
Funky. Not you James. Bloodline.
Los Microwaves – “Coast To Coast” [Dark Entries]
Originally recorded in 1981, Dark Entries just brought this one back and it is such a good record. I’ve been starting off a few sets working this one into a Rabit tune much to the dismay of techno enthusiasts.
Porn Sword Tobacco & SVN – “Complaints” [Kontra Musik]
Simple and effective, good shit for bossa nights.
Pedro Vian – “News From Near Future” (Madteo remix) [Modern Obscure Music]
The original is simply beautiful. Madteo’s version is too but it also packs a good looking wallop. I’m a massive Jamal Moss fan, like everyone else, but the Hiero version is a bit of a let down after hearing that incredible new Eat My Fuck project.
J Stalin – “Neva Let u Down” feat. the Jacka, Husalah, Ampichino [Livewire Records]
I never really liked J Stalin that much but the Jack, Hus and Amp are three of the best to do it, the bay or elsewhere. this is just one of those classic SF summer tunes, that sounds feelgood but is typically gully as fuck. ~
Rather than operate as a music news source, Electronic Beats operates as a music information source. We want to share with you; we want you to know what we’re hearing, what’s reverberating our cochleas and sending broader vibrations throughout our bodies, and by extension our audio-addled souls. Down with that? Welcome to Editors’ Choice.
Lisa Blanning (Online Editor)
DJ Nigga Fox – “O Meu Estilo”
The kuduro producer and DJ has shown up in Editors’ Choice before and this is far from a new release. But something’s been nagging me since I saw his set at Unsound recently. Someone (I can’t remember who) recently described this batida sound as a cross between grime and trance, which is kind of true, but—finally connecting the dots—to me it conjures up the the dirty Dutch house offshoot of bubbling—whose proponent Anti-G was a small obsession of mine a few years ago. Now I need to talk to a musicologist to parse the differences between batida and bubbling.
Louise Brailey (Deputy Online Editor)
Divvorce – “Vanessa (A Dreamer)”
Fifth Wall co-founder Divvorce—who we interviewed alongside Hound Scales back in August—chalks up the Brooklyn label’s ninth release with Vanessa (A Dreamer). A-side “Wander 7” is a piece of molten electro which whirls ponderously across the stereo field while “Roquentin’s Release” perfects a kind of warehouse concréte, all ominous rumbles and trebly, granular ephemera before piston-like drums thunder their syncopated, colossal two-step. The latter is stretched well beyond its elastic limit by Fifth Wall regular Physical Therapy, who refashions it into a piece of doomy, piano-accented disco. Can this label do no wrong? Seriously.
Moritz Gayard (Online Duty Editor)
Death Grips – Government Plates
Another real deal from the Death Grips. Yesterday, they flooded the interwebs with fifteen new videos in fifteen minutes. What’s more, they dropped their new non-Sony album as a free download.
Daniel Jones (Contributing Editor)
Soupcans – Parasite Brain EP
Scuzzy garage punk dominates me a lot more in the summer than in the chilliness of autumn, when I’m much more inclined to lie around in my own grunge than cut loose and thrash. Soupcan’s latest EP Parasite Brain is just hitting far too many of my buttons to ignore, however. There’s traces of Arab on Radar and early Devo, and you could drop buzzwords like ‘lo-fi’ ’til the sun comes up, but Soupcans is clearly not music meant to be approached with tweezers and a microscope. Turn on record, turn off brain, and let your limbs writhe.
Million Brazilians – “Untitled IV”
Speaking of sounds that haven’t entered my ears in a while, here’s a new track from Portland tribalists Million Brazilians. I last ran into these kids in LA around 2009 and fell in love with their sloppily hypnotic rhythms, but it’s been a while since I’ve looked them up. This one’s off their new LP Wet Dry Jungala, which I’m very much looking forward to receiving.
Jannik Schäfer (Social Media Editor)
King Ara – “Who The F**k You Talkin’ To?”
This debut single by the completely unknown singer-songwriter and producer King Ara is fabulous. Make sure to check out the video compiled form the classic seventies cartoon Fritz the Cat. Good work King Ara, looking forward to more!
A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders Twentieth Anniversary Mixtape
I’ve listened to this thing three times front to back in one day. Exquisitely mixed and well put together. Be you a hardcore Tribe fan or a complete unknown to the ways of one of hip-hop’s greatest trios, this one is worth listening to.
Read previous editions of Editors’ Choice here.
Brooklyn’s Fifth Wall label is less than a year old, but their extraordinary opening run of harsh, heavy techno by predominantly under the radar artists—plus the odd curveball such as 5kin&Bone5’s Matrixxmann in uncharacteristically 4/4 form—was immediately worthy of attention. We spoke to Hound Scales and Divvorce, the young minds behind the label, to get a grip on what’s going down. As a bonus FW-affiliated artist Myler has crafted a typically strafing mix featuring the likes of BMB, Xhin and a forthcoming Hound Scales material to accompany the piece. (Above: photo of Divvorce by Kenneth Locke)
Fifth Wall are a a thoroughly modern proposition. The newly minted label purveys a new strain of scaled-up techno that, despite being at the more gruelling end of bunker industrialism, possesses a sly humor that acts as a safety valve which releases the pent up earnestness of many of their musical forebears. “Junta rave” was one early descriptor coined by co-founder Nico Jacobsen aka Hound Scales to describe the label’s debut, Case (Nabis), a cavernous set of vascular bangers that had elements of ’90s garage shining through the cracks in the title track’s reinforced concrete casing,”Militaristic party techno” was another, “…Because,” as Divvorce—the second, anonymous figure behind Fifth Wall— puts it, “the military like to party too, right?”
What’s more, Fifth Wall is located in Brooklyn, rely heavily on the tools of the internet and are at least partly anonymous. If there was a venn diagram featuring the dominant musical trends of 2013, they’d be somewhere in the middle. But, here’s a tip, don’t mention trends. Fifth Wall defines itself strictly against the increasingly fashion-led NY scene, preferring the virtual company of young producers from UK clubbing outposts like Bristol and Leeds to their neighbors and living by the maxim “don’t do trendy shit.”
Of course, we knew none of this when we first heard their music but their outrageously consistent run of releases in 2013, including Hound Scales’ inaugural Case (Nabis) and continuing through Irish producer Myler’s Fatland, featuring the Blawan-esque “Glad Bags” and the comparatively supple forms of Matrixxman‘s The XX Files, made us, 1) sit up and listen and 2) get them on Skype to find out what the hell’s going on over there.
How did Fifth Wall get off the ground? You’ve only been on our radar since February.
Divvorce: We started the label last fall. I guess we didn’t really see many other labels around us in the US that were doing the same kind of sound we wanted to do so we saw this vaccuum here. We wanted to develop a sound we thought was really exciting.
What was your route into this harsh, warehouse sound that’s become your hallmark? When I saw you were based in Brooklyn it instantly made me more interested—it breaks with what’s coming out of NYC right now.
Hound Scales: All I listened to growing up was heavy metal and industrial, and like heavier rap shit. It’s never been a conscious thing to make heavy music, it’s just how it sounds, whether I like it or not. In general our tastes, as a label, just err towards heavy.
D: Personally, my influences and the direction we want to take the label is not based so much on what we’re currently hearing around us in electronic music. I’m from San Francisco originally and when I started to work on the label we were still living in San Francisco, and it was definitely was not something we were hearing so much around there—although a little bit maybe. It was mostly based on stuff I was hearing on the internet.
HS: There was definitely a conscious effort to bring it back to straight-up dance music. I know that when we were going out to San Francisco you didn’t even hear 4/4 anymore. Even at electronic music parties all you would hear was like Ciara, so I was like fuck this. Diversity is good but it wasn’t even diverse, everyone had this battle plan of like now is an R&B edit and now it’s a trap song and maybe one house song for like 30 seconds. It got to the point where I was dying to hear techno or house when I went out, it just wasn’t something we could hear anymore.
D: I’ve been listening to Chicago house for a long time and I’ve always been into really early Detroit house and techno and I longed to hear that out. A lot of the label was probably a reaction against what we were hearing.
You’re clearly not techno purists though… or are you?
HS: I’ll be honest, there was a bit after I heard the first Sandwell District album—because that album was such a revelation to me—there was a good six months after that where I only listened to techno. But we’re definitely not purists.
D: We both really love jungle, early ’90s, Goldie, that kind of stuff was some of the best stuff ever created. I don’t know if that’s reflected in the music, but I think it is.
HS: The next EP is definitely; it’s essentially a slowed down jungle record.
D: I’ve never met Ron Morelli, I feel like we’re actually kind of isolated.
HS: I don’t know anyone.
HS: For me personally it’s like, I’m a bit tired of scenes. Obviously if someone I like is playing I’m not going to not go. I went to the Boiler Room to see Pete Swanson and shit because it’s not like I’m going to miss that, but for the most part it’s kind of hard to get me out of the house to do some scenester music shit. It’s not a traditional way to succeed, to not go out, but I think it does help with our vision because we’re not wavered by influences of what’s going on around us.
You’re clearly not taking any musical cues from your neighbors but you seem to have gone out of your way to not sign US producers, apart from yourselves and Matrixxman.
HS: I have a massively reactionary personality and anyone who knows me could tell me that. I’m the kind of person who does exactly opposite of what I’m around and that’s what I’m thinking of when I’m looking for artists.
D: The first two releases were by Hound Scales and myself respectively. The third release was from Clouds and they’re from Scotland and fourth was Myler who’s Scottish. Matrixxman is from San Francisco. We sort of mix it up, we’re not beholden to any place.
HS: It’s not something we planned, it’s just harder to find Americans making decent music at the moment.
D: Well, I wouldn’t say that. There’s a lot of Americans making great music but not in line with what we’re going for. I’m staying positive.
There seems to be a knowing sense of humor running throughout our work. The whole “junta rave” genre you coined in the beginning, the monochrome label artwork which you make yourself, Nico.
HS: Junta rave came about because I love attaching these crazy names to everything. It was one of those things to describe my release because it was all over the fucking place. It was a batch of different songs—my first five decent songs I made. Originally I was like this is militaristic party shit, in my mind, what would be a party tune in an underground compound? I feel like it fit; the arch contrast. It’s a definite reflection of our personalities, we can be very serious but we can also fuck around a lot too. As for the artwork, we try to do a playful take on classic techno. Like on the Matrixxman, there’s a little UFO sucking the brains out of some guy—you have to look really closely to see that. I try and do a little nod to the release, sometimes it makes more sense, sometimes less. For my release’s artwork you’d have to know quite a lot about this artist Rosemarie Trockel to really understand it. With Divvorce’s art, his whole EP was a reference to this neighborhood the Tenderloin in San Francisco.
It’s early days but what have you got lined up in the coming months?
D: After Matrixxman, we have this guy Unklone who’s this English artist, it’s really dope.
HS: I would say it’s more along the lines of the stuff we put out originally. Charlie [McCloud, Matrixxman]’s release is a nice summer break from the head smashing, but Unklone brings us pretty much back around full circle. We’re both obsessive music collectors and we just both constantly scouring for shit, and it just sort of happens that the people we’re liking just happen to be all kids in their early 20s from England. A lot of it has to do with Hurfyd, who is this guy from Leeds who has this YouTube channel. I definitely consider that dude to be on our board of trustees. When it started, especially everyone that I thought was making exciting music that wasn’t already releasing on labels were these kids in Leeds and Bristol. They were the first people I reached out to. Now they’ve created a little scene for themselves, we found ourselves associating with these guys.
D: Then there’s Physical Therapy, a Brooklyn-based artist.
HS: The Physical Therapy record is one of these things; it was so incredible when I heard it because it was everything that we like to push at Fifth Wall, I was a bit surprised at first because I had all these preconceptions about he as an artist would be making, as Mykki Blanco’s tour DJ and it ended up being a totally unique.
D: He brings a unique perspective having not been steeped in the cult of techno.
HS: Yet he’s the biggest Tommy Four Seven fan, which is what makes it so good. The first time I talked to him we ended up talking about Pizza Man and then talked about Tommy Four Seven a second later. That’s why his music is so sick, he’s out there playing the queer rap scene. It all comes across. People are going to love this shit. ~
1. Radial – “1980”
2. Hound Scales – “A Clique Of Tough Women” (Yuji Kondo Remix)
3. Xhin – “Teeth” (Surgeon Remix)
4. British Murder Boys – “Rule By Law”
5. Ontal – “Disorientation”
6. Hound Scales – “Throated”
7. Sawf – “Toolio”
8. Forward Strategy Group – “Elegant Mistakes”
9. Fran Hartnett – “Reducer”
10. British Murder Boys – “Anti Inferno”
11. Surgeon – “Compliance Momentum”
12. Go Hiyama – “Tokyo View”
13. Go Hiyama – “Personal”
14. Dj Boss – “Zakruta”
15. Swarm Intelligence – “Execute” (Blackmass Plastics Remix)
16. Swarm Intelligence – “Collide”
17. Amon Tobin – “Stupid IDM’z”