1.12.17

Ekoplekz: Cassettera


You'd expect a cassette-only release would be an opportunity to let standards slip to "let the tape spool" so to speak. Even the title, a pun on "etcetera" implies a casual afterthought, something almost not worth mentioning. Au contraire! "Cassettera" contains some of the most martially-coordinated of Ekoplekz tracks. Hearing analogue tones (which so usually splash or splatter, belch or swagger) under such a tight leash is spell-binding.

As much as Ekoplekz continues to make music indebted to the past, the music is rich with yearning for Detroit and UK Techno, Krautrock and NDW and Close to the Noise Floor-era UK Electronics, the sounds are increasingly without precedent. Just as the titles of tracks like "Formative", "Bass 2 Dank", "Jacktrak" and "Seconds too Soon" are progressively obscure riddles in reference to old music, now requiring PhD levels of trainspotter geekishness to disentangle, so Ekoplekz' musical world has become fascinatingly opaque and almost accidentally original.

It could rarely be argued that the cassette as format adds anything to most modern releases. It can become something like a hipster afterthought; but this is not something you could level at this artist. Upstream I know that Ekoplekz has bounced his mix down to tape already. The effect is rather like a marinade. Frequencies bleed into one another as they fall into the narrower available bandwidth. Indeed the process is equivalent to a kind of Compression. Recently Compression has been given a bad rep owing to the nonsense talked about the Loudness Wars but in the recording studio it has always been a critical part of the mix, historically giving an unmistakeable fingerprint to the recording of instruments and voices.

If you've not experienced the sound of cassettes before, their sonic imprimage is something like being "pulled through" rather than being "showed" a sound; almost as though underwater towed by a rope. This might be the perfect place to start.