The London based SM-LL label returns with a new 12” by New Tendencies, the electronic music project of Matt Nish-Lapidus. The in-house sound of the label favours repetition and reductionism, and this EP delivers exactly that, but adds plenty of twists along the way.
The six tracks here all began as sound experiments on the Serge modular system, as the artist honed his techniques in patch programming. This affected the sequencing of the pieces, resulting in looped phrases that go in and out of phase, and often explode into surprising new shapes.
The release begins with Signals, with fast pulses that soon replace the spaces between them with panning thrums. These lower frequency sounds act like drunken kick drums, lopsidedly giving the track an off-kilter rhythm. This idea of rhythm as an unpredictable meter is continued in Not Insulated, as a chugging riff is offset by sonar blips and squealing sine waves.
Things get bugged out with Bug, a track that shoots shards of reverb up from its crunches of white noise, in a slow march. A high frequency tapping gets layers of delay over it, the tones filtering higher and higher until the whole thing ascends upwards like sonic fireworks. This sudden, unexpected tearing away from the loops is a highlight here, and strikes a unique note in the proceedings.
Elsewhere on the record, tracks tackle bouncing bass tones, such as Adapt. Here a slow, thudding kick is swayed off balance by a speaker-shaking synth line that snakes in between and around the beats. Like Bug, this track disintegrates at the end, as piercing sounds break everything apart. I like this approach, where the loops lull the listener into a false sense of security before pulling the rug from under everything. The set closes with Swelter, the most caustic track here, the sounds being stretched to their limits before reforming and stumbling forward. Again, the track accelerates during its final 10 seconds into a ruptured noise. This kind of release is a bit of a departure for SM-LL, throwing more sonic curve balls than previous records from the label, and the uproarious joy of its creator exploring synth patches is clear to hear.