At the Empty Bottle Wednesday: Abstract techno from the PAN Records stable | Bleader

At the Empty Bottle Wednesday: Abstract techno from the PAN Records stable

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Last month the superb Berlin electronic and experimental music label PAN Records presented showcases in Boston and New York, but Chicago was pretty much left off of the U.S. itinerary. Luckily, there's a little bit of salvage occurring on Wednesday night at the Empty Bottle, when two of the acts involved with those east-coast events will perform: Lee Gamble, from London, and Kouhei Matsunaga (performing under the moniker NHK'Koyxen), from Osaka, Japan.

Before turning to experimental electronic music Lee Gamble was a jungle adept, and his PAN debut from last year, Diversions 1994-1996, is a collection drawn from his jungle mixtapes, heavily edited, distorted, and reimagined. In fact, it's hard to hear any trace of jungle music here, with atmospheric drones, ghostly rhythms, and digital noise interacting and floating in time like some kind of space junk, lost and functioning like memory fragments. The intro to a piece like "Razor" triggered plenty of my own memories, with paranoia-inducing two-beat figures that seem to set up an explosion of breakbeats, but in a grand exercise of restraint and denial Gamble holds back to create something else. You can get a strong sense of that sensation below with the track "Emu."

I'm a bit more fond of the material on Gamble's most recent album, Dutch Tvashar Plumes, where the presence of phantom club rhythms persists. It's often submerged within viscous washes and smears of long synthetic tones, a kind of underwater techno—as if one were listening to the music in a disco through a ceiling, something you can definitely hear below in "Plos 97s."

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Matsunaga has made music under numerous aliases over the years (NHK, NHKyx, Internet Magic, Koyxen), but in just about all of his work fractured beats throb at the forefront—there are definitely basic similarities to the abstracted techno of Gamble. His recent recordings for PAN push the dance rhythms hard—stripped-down, propulsive, and repetitive. Below, you can hear "101," a track from his latest collection for the label, Dance Classics Vol. II

Today's playlist:

Mark Alban Lotz & Meinrad Kneer, U-ex(perimental) (Evil Rabbit)
Johnathan Blake, The Eleventh Hour (Sunnyside)
Opositor, Opositor (Trytone)
Samy Elmaghribi, Jewish-Arab Song Treasures (Buda)
Ig Henneman Sextet, Live at the Ironworks Vancouver (Wig)

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