Midwich Productions megapostMarch 5, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment
James Marlon Magas co-founded the beyond-legendary Michigan noise label Bulb Records in the early ’90s before moving to Chicago. Last year, he started a new techno label called Midwich Productions, and all of the releases are super high quality with stunning artwork. The label’s first release is a double 12″ by Moon Pool & Dead Band, a techno offshoot of Bulb Records alumni Wolf Eyes. All 4 sides of this record are devoted to mixes of the duo’s most straightforward dancefloor jam yet, “MEQ”. Sludgy and suspenseful horror-influenced techno, with a cluster of scuzzy sounds and delay over a straightforward beat with a bit of a disco shuffle to it. The various mixes all emphasize certain elements of the track, sometimes making it a bit higher fidelity, but they all keep its spirit intact. Dykehouse increases the tempo a little bit, adds a slight bit more of a disco bassline, but keeps a lot of the swarming noise. Patrick Russell’s mix is a bit more minimal and icy, sounding like a disco inside a snowglobe. JTC (Tadd Mullinix) goes for a stripped down acid jam, emphasizing the melody and adding some dub-techno and ’80s disco textures. Definitely one of the highlights of the package. WCBN/Crush Collision’s own BMG does the longest mix (nearly 8 minutes), and it’s one of the darkest, most minimal ones here, submerging the sounds under an insistent bassline and a sparse, ticking beat. ErNo (also known as Erno the Inferno) starts out by mutating the sounds under a regular shuffling beat, then it gets deeper and more pounding before returning to the original mode. Ice Cold Chrissy (aka Coyote Clean Up) works that 100% Silk magic, pouring fizzy neon cola over everything and turning it into trippy, strobe light echo chamber disco. Nate Young ends the set with a Wolf Eyes mix, slowing the tempo down to a drunken stumble and adding some guitar notes along with the corroded electronics. It ends up really heavy and sludgy, sinking further and further into a pit of quicksand. Next up is Magas’ own Heads Plus 12″ EP, which is a bit different than the electro-punk records he put out on Ersatz Audio over a decade ago. The tracks here have steady tempos aimed at the dancefloor, but there’s still layers of buzzing distortion and other sounds sources from junky old electronic equipment. “Heads Plus” seems like it’s going to turn out to be a pretty straightforward house groove, with conga-like percussive rhythms, but then there’s a mess of sloppy (but not really noisy) sounds lurking beneath, and a “Blue Monday”-ish melody poking its way through. “Checkers” has more of an electro-punk beat, and develops a very simplistic buzzing, festering melody which boils over into feedback until it’s not really a melody after all. “Machete King” seems to have twangy guitar riffs, but they’re entirely synthesized, and some siren-like melodies skitter and whizz by in the background. “Countess” has a bit more of a euphoric cyber-disco groove, with a nice synth bassline and some dubby echo effects over the insistent 4/4 beat. “Layers of Understanding” is a little slower and way more haunted, with just a few simple, creeping melodies progressing over its minimalist horror-disco beat. Viands’ Temporal Relics LP is a document of an improvised session recorded at Trinosophes in Detroit’s Eastern Market by Dave Shettler (Moon Pool & Dead Band) and Joel Peterson (Chatoyant). It’s definitely the least “techno” sounding of the first 4 Midwich Productions releases, but there’s still a distant rhythmic pulse guiding these synth explorations, at least for part of the way. The first side definitely seems more focused, with expressive melodies flowing over the ticking rhythm, which kind of dissolves near the end of the side. The second side starts with the rhythm, but most of the side is more of a nebulous, freeform exploration, getting quite sparse at times, and meandering through outer-space jazz keyboard sounds most of the way. Mick Travis used to live in Ypsilanti, and he put out a noise tape on Hanson Records in 2008, but Face Disappears After Interrogation is his excursion into abstract modular synth techno. It’s basically just twitching synth sounds, blips from a rhythm box which sounds like it’s malfunctioning, and some tape echo. As simple as that sounds, “Multiple Roles” still sounds like there’s three rhythms going on at once, making it sound delightfully confusion. “Aggravate the Grave” is a bit more uptempo, bouncy, and a bit squishy. “Face Disappears After Interrogation” is 9 minutes of staring into the void, with a sparse, jumpy rhythm and dark, delayed synth washes, and little else. “Frigid Finger” has another jumpy, messy-but-minimal rhythm and a kind of silly, squealing synth line, and then it ends with a nervous stammer.
Coming next month are new Midwich releases from HIDE and Alex Barnett.