They’re at it again. Dialling down the crazy in terms of the size of the bill, instead Qu Junktions expand this month’s Mountain Of… event to two venues while keeping the line-up impressively varied and studded with names turning out landmark releases loosely connected to electronic bass music but with little if any surface connection.
What the two ostensible headliners share is a stealthy, deliberate approach to their genres. Kevin Martin’s KING MIDAS SOUND guise is the haunted, skeletal half-brother of The Bug’s stomach-quaking ragga dancehall soundclash; the basslines stay heavy but slowed-down, drenched in dubby paranoia and millennial uncertainty and forming a spacey, weightless bed for Roger Robinson’s muttered incantations and bittersweet vocals. It’s a stunning blend of the personal and the socio-political, equal parts King Tubby and Massive Attack. The Arnolfini space should be a stunning place to hear their glacial reverberations.
Daniel Lopatin’s ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER project is on first assessment poles apart from KMS, but there’s similar tension and unease at the heart of his gently spooling synth-led ambient creations. Electroacoustic drones, synth washes, occasional landslides of noisy electrical scree and the occasional hint of timeless Boards Of Canada-esque incidental melody create a slightly proggy take on early Warp sounds, loose krautrock and Editions Mego labelmate Fennesz. Gorgeous, intriguing head music. Over at Start The Bus, Lopatin pops up again to ‘headline’ the event as one half of GAMES, now renamed LOPATIN & FORD, switching up a gear with freeze-dried and finely chopped twinkling 80s synthpop and swooning MOR washes. There’s a lot of this sort of thing about, much of which uses its very vagueness as a mask for lack of ideas or understanding of the half-remembered past it recalls; these two, though, use the 80s palette to create something substantial and crisply effective.
Another expertly chosen selection, beauty and uncertainty expressed in very different but constantly interesting and memorable ways. Those clever sods have done it again. Go for the Arnolfini gig and skip out for the early train, or stay out and get your full money’s worth; either way, a winner.
KING MIDAS SOUND + ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER + GAMES + SOME TRUTHS…
with DJ Flex Mentallo (Always Everything)
at Arnolfini & Start The Bus, Bristol
(Thu 7th Apr 2011 / 7.30pm / £12.50 adv / Buy Tickets)
Time for another Mountain from Qu Junktions: shrinking to four core acts but expanding to two venues, gaining massive physical presence, electronic magik and bass weight.
The huge, all-enveloping King Midas Sound is UK bass music legend Kevin Martin (The Bug, Techno Animal) with dub poet-turned dark falsetto angel Roger Robinson, plus bittersweet backing vocal accomplice Kiki Hitomi. With releases on Hyperdub (home of Burial) and Soul Jazz, KMS started as a calmer excursion for Martin away from the blistering toxic dancehall of The Bug, and emerged as a slow, haunted hybrid of dubstep and dancehall fit for dark, expectant rooms. While Martin tweaks the distortion down and lets the echo ring, Robinson’s revelatory croon calls to mind classic heartbreak reggae, albeit calling out from adrift within a dread vortex of disorientating sonics and elemental blankets of bass.
One of the defining figures in the post-milennial sprawl of electronic music, New York synthesiser chameleon Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never has rescued his chosen form from rhythm and placed it in a free state of being that’s equally past, present and future. Last year’s “Returnal” album on Editions Mego overwhelmed with its vast, beatific plains of sound, shining a beacon light upon a whole canon of modern producers plugging in to play with time, memory and space. But there is only one Oneohtrix… essential for ears previously glazed by Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream or Boards Of Canada.
Then dance with all your hearts to Games, Lopatin’s more rhythmic vent, along with Joel Ford, his friend since sixth grade. Together they reconfigure the music of their shared youth, bottling the synthesised emotional truth their young ears heard and releasing it as vapour trails of gleaming, pop-informed electronic soul that contains satisfying textural overlaps with the beatless drift of OPN. Total recall disco.
Games will play from 11.30pm at Start The Bus.
Setting us moving is new artist Some Truths, who presents a totally live modular synth performance, no computer no midi no presets … joining the psychedelic dots between John Carpenter soundtracks, Mika Vainio’s pioneering early work and Sun Ra’s moog space missions . Each performance is unique – written at the soundcheck, evolving and changing like some rogue AI in a radiophonic factory.