Words by the ever erudite Adam Turner.
New York’s Throne Of Blood celebrates its 16th birthday with a pair of anniversary samplers dedicated to the business of making people dance. EP 1 came out in the summer – four tracks of no nonsense, dark dancefloor delights, with a global cast.
Chloe (Thevenin, from Parisian label Lumiere Noir) opens proceedings with The Foss – kick drums, wobbly synths and filters making everything stutter and shift. Heady stuff and likely to wear out the carpets at house parties.
Liona (from Ulaanbaator) follows with Tropical – clanging metallic drums and a deep vocal sample, homing in on the heart of the matter. Tension rises with a twangy bassline and cowbell, everything fine-tuned and precise.
The Brooklyn techno of Justin Cudmore’s Sunday Lemonade is even more so, an acid topline wiggling about on thumping four-four drums, hi-hats whizzing by and a chopped up vocal niggling away at the outer edge.
Max Pask (a Frenchman living in Brooklyn and Throne Of Blood’s label manager) teams up with Joakim (of Tigersushi) on Blue Sun, an altogether more frazzled and slowly building affair. Its bleeps and whooshes slightly out of time with the 808’s rhythm, gradually slipping into the stream and coming together at around two minutes in. From there it’s a gliding acid techno trip – long synth chords adding some drama as the bleeps flit about at the top end. With layers of sound over drums, and that sense that the best dance music delivers, of hypnotic happiness cut with melancholy.
EP 2 is scheduled for October, with another high-quality line up, and packing more modern euphoria laced with tears.
Sean Johnston’s Hardway Bros set the controls for The Other Side, a stretched-out nine-minute ode to spaced-out, acid-disco, and the memory of the much-missed Andrew Weatherall. The track was a feature of Sean’s Emergency Broadcasts during lockdown and seems cut from similar emotional cloth to his epic Convenanza tribute, Chateau Comtal. As the soaring synths and drums kick in, it takes flight and when the bass also suddenly bumps away, it’s almost becoming too much. The Kraftwerk-esque topline and rippling melodies dance away endlessly – nine minutes of ecstatic escapism, tinged with a sense of loss. At seven minutes thirty the drums stop and a gorgeous mid-80s New Order guitar riff appears through the smoke.
HAPA hit the mark quickly on Coming Down, a song that sounds like anything other than that. Drums rattle and thump, synths pulse, clipped guitars scatter, a funk bass plucks away, engine noises fly from left to right and back… it’s all forward momentum with rising and falling Moroder synth lines, strobe lit energy and abandon.
Curses’ Modern Peace operates in an ALFOS / dark disco terrain, at some spiritual midpoint somewhere between Carcasonne and Berlin (looking at a map this would seem to be the Stuttgart area). Curses wears his post-punk and New Wave influences – EBM and New Beat, Depeche Mode and New Order – firmly on his sleeve: patches sewn onto a leather biker jacket. His man-handled machines set off by reverb laden axes, space echo and goth vocals. Music for those clubs where everyone feels like an outsider. Modern Peace is six minutes of that world, whirling round in a basement, the lino sticky with spilt beer, cigarette smoke mixed with dry ice and hairspray.
Split Secs, a duo from Los Angeles, finish off with Smack, a house/ techno banger with a big rave bottom-end and a chopped up vocal. The drums march their way ever forwards, thudding and thumping, and the production gives it all a slightly anxiety inducing, chest tightening edge. When it culminates at the seven-minute mark, there’s little else to do but go back to the start of EP1, line all eight tracks up and press play again.
Throne Of Blood`s Anniversary E.P.s 1 & 2 are available to order directly from Bandcamp.
You can find more fine prose from Adam Turner over at his own brilliant blog, The Bagging Area.