Thursday, 21 April 2016

Digital Art / Kane Ikin - Modern Pressure

The Big Smear, RTomens, 2016
More art over here


The Type label puts out some good stuff, like the Nochexx, Shapednoise and Basic Rhythm albums - here's another - we want good stuff, don't we? Trouble is, you know, it's hard to find, unless you're of a particularly generous spirit, or the kind which is easily pleased, in which case, 'good' is everywhere - like all those 'good' albums we come across which aren't actually that good, but we look at the comments and see that a lot of people say it's not just 'good', but 'stunning!', er, 'brilliant!' etc - and you realise that you have different ears to them, the kind for which yet another 4/4 Techno beat with token FX isn't really good enough - yes. Still, it takes all sorts to make the world a more simple place and they work hard at it, every day, supporting mediocrity because their simple ears tell them it's 'good'. Have you noticed? That's how we get superstars, you know. Of course you know. The world's full of 'em - half-talented, fully-ambitious go-getters grabbing people's money. 

Meanwhile, Kane Ikin is starving in his Melbourne bedsit, chewing on three-day-old crusts of bread, drinking sour milk and staring at his music equipment thinking 'I should sell it off - this can't go on!'. At least, according to FACT (so it must be true) he was 'forced to sell off equipment to make ends meet'. I've been there. Well, a similar place; starving on dole money whilst surrounded by albums, a lot of which I had to sell in the 80s. It was eat or listen to another Hank Mobley album on Blue Note - sorry Hank, no disrespect intended, but...

So here's Ikin's Hard Pressure for Type and I should say straight off that it's not a classic - but - remember when idiot journos used to bemoan the lack of brilliant electronic albums because although it was supposed to be 'happening' and 'progressive' and even 'hip' no-one had yet made a 'classic' album (I'm think the early 90s here, when the inky music press still existed) then Orbital were suddenly It - ooh, a proper album! Then they became Glastonbury stars and like The Chemical Brothers thrilled millions of part-time cheesy quavers, clean shirts and crusties...

...since then a lot of very good electronic albums have been made but no-one (except you and me) noticed (I may even have missed a few, yes) because the DIY atomic explosion ensured that everyone could do it to an extent which made Punk look corporate, what with all the available platforms and digital distribution the floodgates opened, drowning listeners and music-makers alike in an ocean of releases. 

Hard Pressure has been on my drive for a few weeks, not causing much trouble, sitting quietly, admittedly, hardly played until the other day when I woke it up - yes - it's interesting, this. Why? Partly because it doesn't quiet know where it's going or what it wants to be - ambient? Dark? Techno? Industrial ruffage? So it's all of them without fully committing to any, which should, really, make it a failure, yet it's far from that. The opener, Partial, is therefore appropriately titled. Its steady tempo, moody beat, gruff machine wheeze works very well, as does the bubble and hiss of Haze Shimmer, an atmosphere constantly interrupted by the suggestion of a sampled melody (or two) yet shrugging them off in favour of melancholic drift implying the fag end of a Summer's day when the stench of nearby dog shit ruined your picnic, you were stung by a wasp and the drugs didn't work. I know nothing about drug-taking, but...

Tap Tap Collapse nag, nag, nags at you with a persistent rising riff like the machine ascending only to be consumed by rhythm then decapitated with a circular saw and Smoke Hood gets the motorik thing just right; its autobahn groove a pure sound/vision of that night-time drive through Babylon (Tottenham) that we've all made, in our heads, at least. If Ikin felt hard pressure when making this, at least the resulting sounds proved worthwhile.

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