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eMMplekz – Your Crate Has Changed

Mordant Music

EMMPlekz - Your Crate Has ChangedOn Your Crate Has Changed, the chimerical union of the wicked Baron Mordant and resident sonar technician Nick Edwards, better known to the world as Ekoplekz, eMMplekz rally against the digital diaspora with bricks, knives; words and confusion.

If you picture the polished perfection of pop culture glitterati as the grotesque, stretch-faced bureaucracy of Terry Gilliam‘s Brazil, then eMMplekz are the freedom fighters and rogue air-conditioning repairmen. The resistance lives in spidered catacombs of dead tech and obsolete, mouldering information, praying in dusty tongues in the dead of night.

While the freedom of information yields many wonders (like the ability to hear this music in the first place, most likely), there is a danger in the gradual mapping and quantifying of the whole known world. It also seems a bit smug, dunnit? The feeling of certainty, that eventually the map would contain the terrain, that every inch of creation will succumb to the fine diamond mesh of the simulacrum. As we all know from a decade of social networking, there is a danger in this assimilation. Everyone uploads their most flawless pictures, faces caked beneath half an inch of make-up, photoshopped to death. It is the difference between the homemade boombox bootleg and the hi-fi studio masterpiece. Some of those bootlegged oddities yield miracles, and we don’t want to lose that sense of wonder and mystery that the accidental masterpiece inspires.

Baron Mordant and Ekoplekz are tireless freedom fighters, spewing sand in the self-satisfied vaz of the Uncanny Valley. Their weapons of choice: dystopian, radiophonic electronics and surreal, sinister stream-of-consciousness invocations, courtesy of  Mordant. The Baron’s wry observations of polite (and dingy) British society are almost exactly half Hugo Ball/half John Lennon, delivered through an echoplex of swirling delays and dubby echoes. The cloud of poetry and descriptions of wan desperate modern living provide a spot-on analogy of the banal surrealism of the everyday, of supermarkets and corporate pubs, dirty hotels and raising children. This is Blue Velvet if it were filmed in Lancashire.

The heart of this record could be found in the duality of “Invoices In My Head,” illustrating the endless cybergrind of demanding voices and obligations, vs. “Abacabacus,” which sounds like a Mesopotamian spell to ward off the plague. Old world mysticism and children’s voices rub up against official sloganeering and grim slice-of-life, as an antidote and an antithesis. It’s cognitive dissonance; it’ll make you think.

Musically, Ekoplekz has never sounded better, squiggles of lazer melodies, detuned Quatermass oscillators, thick pulsing basslines and the occasional beat. There is a sense of tasteful restraint, as it seems that the majority of this record was probably built around the vocals, although some of it could be a jam; it’s hard to say. I’ve read that Nick Edwards won’t repeat the same equipment set-up, to keep things interesting for himself, so his control of his kit is most remarkable. Much of the instrumental content is of the radiophonic soundscape variety, but Edwards’ love of rave music shines through at times, as some of the tracks are quite danceable. Even when it’s mostly smeary electronics, everything is mixed to perfection, never harsh or abrasive on the ears, leaving plenty of room for Baron Mordant’s chanting.

Ekoplekz, Baron Mordant and a handful of likeminded miscreants (many of whom can be found on the Mordant Music label), are picking up the torch of technological atavism sparked by Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV and Coil. The mixture of 20th century avant-garde art, British heathenry and the early, adventurous side of electronic music is a heady brew, that will leave you seeing stars and leave a gritty CCTV ring around your tub.

In a world where everything is mapped and gridded, it eliminates the chance for happy discoveries, not to mention the joys of freedom and adventure. Baron Mordant and Nick Edwards know what it’s like to find a lost and brilliant record for a fiver. They know a great place for fish and chips; and a secret, special place, in the middle of some sprawling forest. In the quiet, in the silence, lies wisdom.

Off of the grid, there be dragons, and surely we are them.

-J Simpson-

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