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Subsist – SUB-D41 [Reviewed]

Artwork

Subsist records (Valencia, Spain) has built up an extensive back catalogue of underground electronica & techno since its inception in 2010, featuring artists including Ntogn, Voidloss and SHXCXCHCXSH amongst many others. The 41st (yes, 41) release is the debut long player from Squaric, purveyor of self-defined “distorted rave”. The release has already received strong feedback from the likes of Pfirter, P.E.A.R.L, Pinion and Mike Stern, and features 8 tracks of powerful and experimental music. The intensity of the music is sometimes brutal, but is always done with flair, intelligence and a little playfulness. There is plenty here both for the listening head and the dancing floor – here are some of the highlights.

Opening track “IM 41012 1” sets the tone perfectly. Abrasive, ambient static cycles up and down, a muted alarm sounds and a high pitched tearing note scrapes up and down a scale, punctuated by echoing laser stabs. I can’t help but be reminded of some of the more pensive moments of Blade Runner.

“Between Genin” has a delightful stomp and swagger, and we start to see the artists style of music develop. Liberal use of high pitched stabs and distorted claps provide the high end interest and there is a highly addictive single synth note, both a clean and distorted version giving groove to the melody. Underneath this, booming kickdrums and regular fills add to the “live” feeling of the track.

“Pka 3.4” sets out the now trademark drum sound in a brutal 4/4 pattern and breathy ambient notes gradually take a back seat to fizzing, acidic static. The atmosphere is dark and heavy, but again, groove and light is injected into the rhythm with a 4 beat synth line – never quite brought to the fore, but enough to focus the attention on this aspect of the track. Again, that composite of the heavy and light that is a signature of Squaric’s work.

“Earthly Bond” ratchets up the tension further, beginning with echoing industrial bangs and slow dripping sounds. Into the gloom, a distorted note creeps, and a rhythmic static burst (or very distorted hat) leads in the kicks. This is an absolutely frenetic track, again with that “live take” feel, and contains some utterly shattering crescendos built from hissing percussion, static sweeps and dropped back down with a echoing bell/chime that fades out like a setting sun. The breakdown in the middle is classic Squaric. Nearly everything stops apart from hissing static and a filtered sweep, and is replaced by a muted. rhythmic xylophone – superb contrast with the dark nature of the track. This is the track of the album for me, with the possible exception of “IM 41012 1”.

Final mention to “Lenghts emissions hantil” – a fantastic, hard, tool style track comprising a synth triplet that will burrow its way into your mind and stay there, wobbling acid, handclaps and of course the now ubiquitous kicks.

“Tournefortia” is available from the Subsist bandcamp page in a highly limited run of 50 CDs, and is shipping out now. I recommend you grab a copy as this music is the sound of an artist on his way up, and with the feedback he’s already received from respected figures in the underground, we are sure to hear more very soon. “Distorted rave” is exactly what this is, and Squaric was good enough to talk to us and answer a few questions about his work:

SquaricAz

Congratulations on your first album, a milestone in any musicians career. This is your first release, so I’m interested to know what made you go for an album rather than one or a number of EPs first?

Thank you. With the amount of material I was working on, and the time I had spent on it, it made sense for me to produce this as an album.

Subsist is an exceptional label – how did your relationship with them come about?

I have good relationship with the label already, and so it was natural for me to send the album automatically when both sides were complete. I thought it was a good idea to publish my first album in a prominent record label such as Subsist. Luck for me they agreed!

Have you always produced/played music or an instrument?

I’ve always played music in one form or another, but have had to work hard for some time in producing this album. For the productions I used both analogue and digital instruments, to find a balance in the strength and forcefulness of each track.

Outside of music, what inspires you?

I really like to read. right now I’m reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley again,
because I’m interested in his conclusions and vision.

What can we expect next?

I have a remix on the fantastic “Time is stubborn, Memory is fleeting” EP by DrvgCvltvre on Diffuse Reality Records, which is released this Friday (21 August) (https://soundcloud.com/diffusereality/dreacd-001, and https://diffuserealityrecords.bandcamp.com)

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Interview & review by Stringer

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