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Ekoplekz – Rock La Bibliotek

West Norwood Cassette Library

Ekoplekz - Rock La BibliotekFollowing his recent albums Four Track Mind and Unfidelity, Ekoplekz has now released a six-track EP on the wonderfully-monikered West Norwood Cassette Library label. Rock La Bibliotek is in a different format and has a totally different vibe. On it he offers up a more minimalist sound, and while the richer radiophonic aspects of the albums has been put to one side, with some distinctly retro sounding bleeps and squelches, the Ekoplekz approach to production still renders tracks that are dripping with atmosphere.

At times quite dark, the collection also reaches into psychedelic territory through layered, progressive trancey episodes and some contorted dissonance. However, in throwing the more conventional sound palette out the window, Nick Edwards has nonetheless produced a collection that for the most part belongs in the club, albeit a pretty far-out one.

The opening track, “Sarkaztik” (you’ll notice a theme with the names which have been having great fun with my spell check), delivers a full-on aural frontal assault punctuated by some antique computer game sounds. Imagine getting down in the club while the DJ is spicing up their grooves by abusing a ZX Spectrum for accompaniment. I am sure I recognise one of the sounds from an early eighties VIC-20 computer game, the name of which I cannot recall. In spite of the arrhythmic drum line and jarring top notes, the track has a coherence that means that these elements just make the groove more forceful.

“Evakuate” gets full on industrial, with sirens and what sounds like a steam engine sample. If only this EP had been done 40 years ago, this track would have been perfect for the Eraserhead soundtrack. On “Dropkone” the trip turns deeply spooky, with no drum line, just a low throbbing bass, phased pitch-bending and horror movie chords. “Metronomik” steps up a gear, layering looping effects-laden synth hooks, driving bass and offbeat echoey drums, distorted rhythm guitar and a deep analogue synth melody to create a kind of electro meets space rock wig-out spectacular. The build is satisfying, with the persistence of the rhythm line and the eloquence of the disharmony, and you’re not quite sure whether you should be hearing this in Corsica Studios or The Rainbow.

“Perplekzed” provides a joyfully strange interlude. If you heard it in a club, you can be pretty sure that the dancefloor would be cleared and the only ones left on it would be an alien who slipped through the door policy and the guy who has overindulged on hallucinogenics, who should probably be given a wide berth anyway. But it’s so much fun, and again the retro sci-fi feel provides a comfort blanket of nostalgia that makes it cosy, despite the dissonance. The final track, “Ekztatik,” is a big, beautiful slab of smooth techno layers that sing with classic status over a bossa nova-like rhythm and artfully-restrained acid loops. It reminded me of Carl Craig’s 69 Lite Music, but with added Ekoplekz richness from his armoury of sonic weirdness. It’s a great way to finish the collection, although my indulgent side wished it were may be a little longer, as the themes within it felt like they could bear more development.

Ekoplekz is succeeding in producing electronic music that is pushing the boundaries of the soundscapes he creates without forgetting that you might still want to dance to it. Its a rare feat and one that we hope he continues to master.

-Jim Bennett-

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