Without delving into an epic end of year list that will undoubtedly bear little or no relevance to anything other than the frantic, prolonged stress over what should be included and how to numerically order it; there are a lot of people, labels, collectives and artists who made 2011 super fun to experience the highs and lows of. We’ve made no bones of our love for them here but one person who has continually made the year that little bit more interesting through his polite and informative email updates, wandering e-conversations and his continual curation of 10” single releases is Bob from West Norwood Cassette Library. This year he found the time to release music quality music from Milyoo, Don Froth, and Ultramarine alongside some of his own work on the ‘Get Lifted’ single.
Each release has seemed to fit the pithy realm surrounding the archaic kick drum punch he made prevalent late last year with a duo of his own productions ‘What It Is’ and ‘Mrs Fingers’. It’s also quite telling that his A&R ear has managed to find and bind together artists and work that is increasingly different from each other (a point that FACT raised with him in an article from a couple of months back). Despite the differences, when you listen to it as a whole, the label’s discography makes complete textural sense – it’s never overtly or purposefully gritty but there’s definitely an element of organic crunch to the material. Though Bob’s probably the first guy to admit that there are no real processes producers have to adhere to release on his label; they just simply have to make music that excites him.
The latest person who’s set his world into a spin is Canadian producer Knowing Looks, aka one Jason Hopfner. His ‘Abandoned Skip’ b/w ‘Last Kiss At The Plains Hotel’ 10”, which came out earlier this year, helped the WNCL label break through to the record boxes of respected DJs like 2562 – who undoubtedly picked up on the hefty splat of that kick drum that hits heavy like a lot of 2562’s work as A Made Up Sound does. And whilst the A side ‘Abandoned Skip’ helped KL’s music reach and impact upon the dancefloor, the flip, ‘Last Kiss…’, gave people more of an insight into his processes (given that it is such a deft exercise in sampling and tapestry arrangement). Building the whole tune out of found sound sources gives his work that dusty, humble texture and that Entroducing kind of familiarity from the get go, enabling your ear to latch on and follow it through the cascades of evolutions.
His latest release, out this Monday just gone, further embellishes that approach. On ‘Listen To My 45’ Hopfner excessively samples and chops vocal phrases, horn refrains, sirens and strung chords into weird and wonderful shapes. He’s got an uncanny ability to drive his tracks home; the breakdowns levitate with crackly chord drones and then, he runs headlong into the drops, throwing all kinds of doo wop harmonies at it. Both ‘Last Kiss…’ and ‘Listen to My 45’ are epic examples of his cut and paste mastery; breathing constructions that evolve way further than a selection of cleverly layered stock loops or pre packaged intertwined phrases ever could. But it’s also worth noting that on both releases there’s been a total floor-kicker that comes with it.
Yep, across his two WNCL 10”s Hopfner’s kept us captivated, marvelling at the intricacy of how he toys with samples and arrangement one minute, he then goes and blows you away with the raw power of his dancefloor material the next. Where ‘Abandoned Skip’ sauntered through that harem where techno and dubstep intersect, ‘Ghost Baby’ squalls like something you’d expect from producers associated with that mêlée of rudeboy techno inherent to Nottingham (and people like Hizatron or Morris Cowan). It’s brutally fast beyond its tempo and incessantly colourful, like an extended version of that bit in Stargate where James Spader and co. fly through the wormhole.
Following on from his WNCL009 VIP Xmas present to the world, his giveaway of ‘Never Gonna Get Charlie’ last week, we caught up with the Toronto based producer to learn us a lot about him as a human being and grab our 112th Sonic Router Mix.
Tinkertoy – I Understand Why You Want to Move to Montreal [Lautmaschine]
Jurgen Paape – Triumph [kompakt]
Jicheal Mackson – Piepe [Hartchef Discos]
The Per Eckbo Orchestra – Kodo Verano [Oslo]
DeepChord – Electromagnetic Dowsing [Synth]
Farben – Love Of Love [Klang Elektronik]
Da One Away – Trash Da Junk (808 dub version) [Main Squeeze]
Jackmate – Male-isms [Philpot]
Knowing Looks – All Of You
Anna Kaufen – Who Cares [A Touch of Class]
Stephen Beaupre – My Old Lady [Musique Risquee]
Knowing Looks – Mental Trip
Noze – Loving All People [Circus Company]
Knowing Looks – Mora The Explorer
Stewart Walker – Star Machine [Mosquito]
Pantytec -Maybe [Perlon]
Knowing Looks -Harry the Horse & Hennes die Geißbock vs. the World [Monsieur Musique]
Studio 1 – Silver [Studio One]
Knowing Looks – Poisoned Apples
Stephen Beaupre – Ficidin Flop [Musique Risquee]
Knowing Looks – Cytal Fink
Joe – Claptrap [Hessle Audio]
WNCL – Say What [New Kanada]