To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can have any Broque netlabel album cover painted any colour you want so long as it is black and white. This, the latest in an unbroquen line of drab album covers, does its best to dissuade listeners from exploring Applause Phenomena, a classy minimal EP by Dennis Korsunski (A.K.A. Clapan, otherwise known as Information Ghetto), but Catching The Waves is made of stupid stern stuff. Advanced electronic rhythms from the Russian Black Sea coast via a Bavarian netlabel? Pah. It's all in a day's work for CTW. Chancellor Merkel, put your fat ankles up on a cushion and enjoy some multikulti.
The opener, About Chords, begins with skipping, scratching percussion that forms a spiky bed for the titular synth chords, which are either cold and distant, slathered in reverb and high-pitched delay, or upfront and cuddly. The contrast makes for an enjoyable listen. Yes, a driving hi-hat appears halfway through the track, as agreed in UN Resolution 1998 (Minimal Tropes Being For The Benefit Of Dancefloors), but that's merely there to keep your head nodding: the real interest lies in the off-stage noises and clever use of reverb and echoing pads that tar-and-feather the basic rhythm.
At eight minutes long, today's recommended track is a flagrant violation of CTW's renowned First Law of Dance Music (in short, two's company; three's a crowd), but I forgive it in the same spirit in which I forgive @stephenfry for jawing on and on: to quibble in the face of such good-natured entertainment would be churlish.
Applause Phenomena contains a number of Good Things: beautifully fashioned granular ticks and flecks; a rolling but polite kick drum; a splashy snare; groovy, good-natured vocal phrases; a bass line that sounds like an ogre turning over in his sleep; bursts of applause that are more like white-noise interjections than the usual hackneyed attempt to inject atmosphere; gentle pads and spooky lead synths that almost imperceptibly guide the ear through the plethora of sounds that tease the eardrum from left and right, near and far; and the dawning realisation that the track is unerringly getting groovier and yet more profound while at the same time kicking out like a potato-faced English footballer confronted by a wily continental.
Let me catch my breath for a minute. I'm not used to writing paragraphs. *puff* Right, onwards.
At its best, minimal/techno/dance/insert-suitable-genre-name-here transcends its repetitive origins to become electronica or fast-paced ambient; something that has depth. It's not just about endlessly repeating a four-bar loop and hoping that listeners will dance around a pile of handbags and manbags on a nightclub floor. Enough of my pseudery. Press the little love triangle below and draw your own conclusions:
You're allowed to dislike it. But you'll have to return my spare snuggie and we can no longer be friends.
After that comes the "Less Softbeat" remix of the same track. It relies heavily on the goodwill engendered by the appearance of familiar elements. Sad to say, it's a competent but rather anonymous track that would have benefited from more melodic or percussive variety.
The "support" in Old Cool Support refers, I think, to the Amen Break-type rhythm underpinning the crunchy and distorted pads and stabs that ready you for a dance-floor banger. However, the appearance of a simple and slow three-note bassline confounds expectations, as does the appearance of a wildly panning and repitching pseudo-harpsichord. Once another synth pops in with a rhythmic hook and is joined by a shower of clicks and high-pitched pops and crackles, the track veers between funky profundity and profound funkiness. It came a very close second to today's recommended selection and is still hoping that drug tests will reveal that it was cheated of glory.
The last track, Snow Report, threatens to disappoint with its extremely unoriginal four-to-the-floor kick intro until superb, machine-tooled incidental noises flesh out the rhythm and warm synths float in from on high to reassure you that time spent listening to this album is time well spent. I'm fond of the brief stop-start breaks made from diamond-hard percussive elements that are dropped in a sea of reverb and then high-passed and panned out to the extreme edge of the stereo field.
Speaking of which, the whole album is a testament to Dennis Korsunki's production wizardry; in places he has squeezed the proverbial quart into a stereo pint pot, relying heavily on the fact that you've probably got two ears. (A mono recording wouldn't be nearly as impressive.) Imagine you're back at your schooldesk and enjoying (ha!) a maths lesson. Forget your pimples and your crush on the teacher, and concentrate on the protractor spread out in front of you. Now imagine a click, pop, burble, snap, drum, synth and bass placed on each line of the 180 degree arch. Each element has its own niche. Imagine further that each sound sits comfortably in its own spatial reverb and has had all its superfluous frequencies cut away. Suddenly, your ears can make sense of the dozens of sounds thrown at you. You can solve quadratic equations. You will go to Harvard and bang as many students with superb teeth as possible. Life is good, all thanks to free CC-licensed music supplied by a hard-working netlabel and a maverick Russkie.
Write 100 times: I must send a thank-you email to Broque netlabel. And comb your hair.
Information Ghetto - Applause Phenomena EP (link to zipped album & individual files)
Broque netlabel (Ich danke Ihnen, meine Kameraden Bayerischen. Bitte können wir etwas Farbe? )