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Freeform – Me Shape

Label: Sprawl Imprint Format: CD

Freeform - Me ShapeAssembled from the now-usual urban sprawl of sounds which make up the inspiration for much of Electronica’s current output, Me Shape is Simon Pyke‘s contribution to the clockwork maelstrom which characterises this apect of late Nineties music, and of which The Sprawl Imprint and club are particular exponents. Built up from two years of sound recordings and live sets, the album is filled with coiled energy, prowling into view as the slightly ominous bass growl and plinking treble rhythms (hi-hats really doesn’t come close as a useful term here) of “Yours Sincerely” establish a mood of wigged-out fascination with interlocking groove dynamics.

“Munchogram” is not only an excellent track title, but quite descriptive of the attenuated melodies and rolling throb of a bottom-heavy undertow which proceed at skanking pace towards the inner depths of skunksome headfunk, and the same applies to “Zing” and “Blip”. Is this the sound which will mark the end of a decade? The blasted heath of blunted beats, never quite content with any genre description, and perfectly capable of changing gear into a mechanistic warmth somwhere related to, but distant from, the hypnotic pace set by Techno and the stochastic assemblages of HipHop and breakbeat science – it’s all here in Me Shape

There’s even the sound of a washing machine mechanism in the mix of “Arial Automatic,” continuing the Industrial and Music Concrète traditions of making grooves from mechanical processes – see also Digi-Dub‘s bus-based “Routemaster” – here transmitted as a Latinate piece interpreted by a bottling plant. Further tracks mash up the ticking whirrs of diverse mechanisms with the booming beats and basslines of groovy Electro-Dub-Funk disposition, smeared with echoes and spread by timestretching into warped areas of sullied, semi-chaotic sound. Pyke seems to like nothing better than to take an apparently mellow, clever sequence and then make it bleed, with occasional breaks for the mellow ticking over of found-sound beats. Though the flutes and smooth moves detectable in “Superfink” or the Jazz-Funk warbles of “Gni” struggle gamely with their immersion in electronic soup, the technology always triumphs in the end.


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