Monday 19 April 2021

Drunken Style

I love a lot of the flavours and colours of electronic music (as you might expect if you've read this blog for any amount of time) but I fee like there are sometimes big gaps in my library - I used to feel this way about Drum & Bass but kinda got ahead of that when I went on a bit of a liquid funk trek around 2010 or so for example. However, one of the ones that gnaws at me a bit is Techno. I have a fair few of the classic records sure, and there are some that while I don't much like I can still appreciate.... But I still feel like it's a little underrepresented as a genre in my collection, especially when it comes to modern examples. Enter the subjects of this post:

Drunken Kong, another case of me finding an artist due to a happy accident. I don't quite remember how it happened now but it was a recommendation from something, and with a name like that I had to look them up. They're a duo from Japan which proved promising as there's a fine history of Techno there - Ken Ishii, Takkyu Ishino and Q'hey to name just a few I've picked up over the years. But as I mentioned previous those aren't contemporary examples, so I was looking forward to what Kong brought to the table.

I had a quick listen through their debut album The Signs Within - and some tracks immediately shot their way into my more techy playlists. Life We Knew is an early highlight and actually doesn't sound too far removed form the last piece of Japanese electronic I picked up Chikada 'J.J.' Wasei's Cyberia Layer_2. What you can expect here is not at all like the name would suggest - I was thinking maybe some slightly off kilter melodic stuff in the vein of Siriusmo's Tränen Aus Bier, instead in true Techno style we get skeletal structures that slowly build over time. From what I could tell the majority of The Signs Within is unmixed as well which is a treat, often when you get albums like this the tracks are cut down and mixed, each have their advantages and disadvantages. Life We Knew mixes it up more than enough to hold my attention, there aren't any extended 4 minute solo 4/4's like I heard on my trance trip recently: just when I think I could be getting a little tired of a certain sequence a new layer comes in to spark some more life into it, I am a total sucker for the teasing that the build ups do here as well, there might not be an explosive payoff like in Trance but it's no less satisfying.

Perfect Dominance was actually the first track I heard, I was thinking they'd fit in my more techy playlists anyway, and the intro of this one has that perfect 'slightly muffled techno you hear from outside a club' vibe I was looking for. The formula is much the same here, layers building on layers as we move forward in time. I'm a big fan of the growly synths that make their way through the intro now and then, it's perhaps a little more repetitive than Life We Knew, (which was also no doubt helped by that li'l vocal sample) but once it gets going it's another treat to hear. It is a bit of a shame it takes almost half it's runtime to get to that point but then again I am casually listening to it here, tracks like this absolutely demand to be heard on the dancefloor and I can totally see myself loving it even more in that context.

That's not to say there isn't variety here - while Domincance and Life We Knew certainly followed the same basic formula and structure, there's plenty to get your teeth stuck into here. I've chosen the final track A New Day to play us out. The title for me will always evoke images of Richie Hawtin's cult classic under the F.U.S.E. alias, one of my favourite examples of that kind of early 90's ambient techno. Like it's similarly named cousin, Kong's A New Day is a gorgeously spacey closer to the album - one that embraces the techy sound of its predecessors with those hypnotic arpeggios. Tracks like this always spark that urge within me to return to the mixing space, I just fall in love with the ideas that come to mind, using tracks like this or Arpanet's Wireless Internet to build atmospheric intros or close out sections. If I ever decide to make another techy mixtape in the style of the last one I did, this track will most certainly be there.

This was a nice refreshing change of pace, a little break from the Retro Reviews with something new and a bit shorter to boot! I'm going to try and queue up a couple of these the next time I decide to do another Retro Review just so the gap isn't as wide, or maybe even an EP to avoid the length altogether. Anyway, that's getting off topic, I hope you dig some of these tracks as much as I do! And as always: stay safe and enjoy the music.


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