Short Circuits 1 - By Volume

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Short Circuits 1

Tayyab Amin dissects some of his favourite electronic 'songs' - tracks with their own distinct narrative and soul. Author: on May 9, 2013
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I want to talk about songs.

Not all tracks are songs, nor all LPs albums. There are people who simply don’t accept or believe in the concept of the album – particularly when it comes to ‘dance’ music, which is the direction this piece takes. It should be noted that I feel ‘dance’ is a simplistic, inaccurate, and arguably derogatory way to describe music – but that’s a whole different can. This electronic music rose to prominence largely as a result of DJ culture, therefore it is perhaps understandable that some listen to tracks and scrutinise them with regards to how they might be used in a set, on a system, with an audience. Many tracks are built with such purpose, beginning and ending with the same layer of kicks and holding a similar structure in order to be ‘DJ-friendly’. These tracks aren’t necessarily intended to be songs, so to speak, but can I not perceive them as such?

It is not my intention to debate and discuss what makes a song a song, but we have to establish a definition somewhere. Songs are tracks that I believe carry their own sub-plot, standing on their own, apart from any LP, album, mixtape, release – tracks that aren’t just pieces of a larger puzzle, but that are, in fact, their own puzzle of pieces as well.

So this is about songs, ones loosely concerned with electronic music, and how they come together.

DJ Koze – Nices Wölkchen (Pampa, 2013)

In the electronic music dictionary, the German translation for ‘anomaly’ is DJ Koze. The oddball enigma announced the eagerly-anticipated Amygdala – which was to come eight years after his previous album – with artwork as Koze as you could get, depicting the artist robed and riding what appears to be a stag in a forest, clearing among fields and hills of pink. The eclecticism seeps through his music too, as “Nices Wölkchen” begins with unintelligible, yearning mumbles and samples – “words drawn away”. It takes near to a minute to find its feet, before a warm shuffle kicks in. The salient synth ambles beneath drizzling samples, seemingly from another realm.

Fellow German (and fantastic musician in his own right) Apparat chimes in with vocals that worm their way into your soul (in a good way): “It’s fully black / inside your hat”. Koze peels back to the absolute minimum two-thirds in and dances between the channels, panning to devastating and disorientating effect. The nonsensical Apparat croons begin to creep in once more to subtly add to the dizzying flurry. By the end, all the different layers seem to have dispersed in scattered directions, leaving us with the kick Koze took so long to find. It’s one of 2013’s most exciting and intriguing techno tracks, on an album for which the same can be said. Koze works his magic throughout the album, ensuring each track becomes a song, but it is on “Nices Wölkchen” that the balance is perfected.

Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland – 11 (Hyperdub, 2012)

Every track on Black Is Beautiful is nameless, referred to by listing, bar the opener which is tentatively referred to as “(Venice Dreamway)”. There’s no obvious reason for this, but for the fact that most of this duo’s antics are inexplicable anyway. Despite the fact it isn’t released under their usual Hype Williams moniker, “11” doesn’t feel atypical of that project. Diving in on primitive snares that tiptoe the line of experimental trip-hop, chords enquire and plead like sirens as Inga’s rustic vocals lament her infatuation with meta connotations: “With my mind going up and down I’ve been so low… Your crazy ways got the best of me / I see your face in everything I see…” With a meandering bassline contributing to the catastrophe, I can’t work out how all the dissonant waves fall back in phase with each other to produce something so good. But at under two-minutes in length, I’m left feeling like Inga, in need of so much more. “It’s not enough for me.”

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