J.C.’s blend of techno is the muffled sounds of faraway raves mingling with the insistent beat of European club music. His forthcoming Mugako EP due out late August on Semantica continues their Exhibition Design collection, and is stylistically most aligned with the first release of the series, Material Object’s Hentai. Mugako‘s insistent, industrial-influenced electronics reminds me of In Aeternam Vale‘s recent release – this is foreground music that demands utter attention.
The album kicks off with an ethereal synth bed. A processed voice rises out of the fog, fragments barely able to be discerned. The warbled sample continues throughout the track, taunting the listener to understand its message. The clip is from the 90’s movie Contact, nabbed from a moment where the main character speaks into a Ham radio. The sample isn’t so insistent as to be bothersome, but it is mysterious. The message, is anybody out there? is answered by a screwy little synth that engages with the voice in a call and response.
This preamble is not indicative of the rest of the EP, which lives in a much lower frequency register, consisting largely of bass rumbles, noisy, crushed snares and four-on-the-floor tribal drums. Much of the album is percussive, with the occasional synth line contributing a garnish to the overall sonic meal.
However, halfway through the album on “Apodaka,” the hypnotically dark beats are overtaken by an extended sound bite taken from a morning news show about the U.S.’s 2016 supposedly rigged democratic election. A bit of detuning and ping-ponging around the stereo field adds interest, but it is mostly distracting as the pundits discuss Bernie Sanders’ merit, enough to pull us out of the tune. The clip itself is as long as the song itself, clocking in at over four minutes. By the time Mugako is released the content of the clip itself will have lost its relevance, due to the fact that Sanders has been defeated by all accounts in the democratic race. Connecting a sound clip to what will be considered a blip on the political stage years from now risks constraining the work to its time, when the rest of the EP presents soundscapes that seemed divorced from it. Sanders’ legacy already stands as a footnote in an election that is as insane and unconventional as any Americans have ever had. J.C.’s frustration is palpable and even understandable, but comes out of nowhere on a record that is largely comprised of music of a different shade.
“Apodaka” functions as a teaching point for sample effectiveness for any producer. When our media-saturated culture produces thousands of hours of potential audio bites on a daily basis, careful curation is the name of the game. What makes the Contact clip work is that its content is obfuscated as well as general. It’s also only several seconds long and is dropped low into the mix in addition to being heavily treated to aid in befuddlement. The voice retains a mystique that challenges us self-referentially to hear her message. The rest of the release keeps us within this mystique, like “Itxaso,” which creates a seeming impossibility: danceable noise. There’s also “Hator,” where the swirling ambient bed becomes squelched by a clicking kick drum, and lastly the dissonant feedbacking drone of “Mairu,” that stands as a more subtle representation of J.C.’s anger at the American political process.
Check out the music video for “Bixi” below:
Mugako will be released on August 26th on Semantica Records.
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Tristan Kneschke enjoys traveling to places his mother warns him about. Visit www.tristanwrites.com.