Monday, March 7, 2011
Egyptrixx – Bible Eyes
01 Start From The Beginning
02 Bible Eyes
03 Chrysalis Records (feat. Trust)
04 Liberation Front
06 Rooks Theme
07 Recital (A Version)
08 Fuji Club (feat. Trust)
10 Recital (B Version)
The reputation of David Psutka's Egyptrixx among beat music cognoscenti was quickly cemented last year by tracks like "Battle for North America" and "The Only Way Up", the latter being one of the brightest cuts to come out of a packed-with-hits Night Slugs camp. His willingness to take the basis of UK funky into techier, more austere turf meant he could stake a potential claim as a progressive-minded genre-tweaker. Still, all through his previous peaks, you could hear his music stretching, testing itself, reaching for something ahead even as it planted a couple solid feet directly in the midst of a spotlit movement.
Bible Eyes is what those earlier singles were reaching for, and as a full-length debut it's a bit of a shock-- the familiarization process of a compelling new artist sped up into a rapid succession of surprising revelations. Earlier singles hinted at clean minimalism and deep rhythmic space, but that sound is significantly starker here. The rhythmic underpinnings feel more in line with Kompakt-brewed minimal house rather than a label that stormed the gates on the back of Girl Unit's colossal "Wut". Most basslines are pared down into pure percussion, pulsing like kickdrums instead of dubstep wobbles or electro throbs, but their deepness and intricacy playing off the snares and claps provides the momentum.
In those terms, you get songs like "Naples" or the title track-- cuts that seem both propulsively rich and structurally airy. The louder you turn it up, the bigger the spaces between the beats seem, the larger the drums loom, the more negative space to pit your steps against. And in evoking other stylistic side roads that don't slot as neatly into his post-funky precedent-- the Kris Menace-simpatico electro synths in the pop-friendly "Chrysalis Records", the straight-up tech house nod of "Recital (A Version)", the brooding dubstep of "Fuji Club"-- he gives those wide-open beats a lot of contexts to sink into your medulla and filter down your backbone.
But maybe the most surprising revelation is how willing Psutka is to use disorienting, inside-out melodies as a front-and-center element. Think of the current vogue for warped and faded tape-jam sonics freed from its nostalgic VHS trappings, made both crisper and noisier. At their most accessible, the fluttering, woozy chords from singles like "Drive You Crazy" and "Everybody Bleeding" are pushed just a bit further out; the shaky-kneed hook that cuts in halfway through "Liberation Front" has the tactile sensation of an aluminum-rubber alloy, all metallic sheen and resilient elasticity. At its most extreme end, you get "Barely", which foregrounds a squelching hook so dissonant and queasy-- yet so gravitational-- that it redraws the parameters of what it's possible to make anthemic.
And yet it all falls together in that calculated way bass music albums do when they're simultaneously engineered for headphones and dancefloors. This is an album that sounds invigoratingly abrasive when you're moving and pins you to your seat when you're not, a study in pushing the limits of distortion that works as just plain good club music. And it's eclectic enough to anticipate a half-dozen directions for Egyptrixx to go from here-- odds are he's not out of surprises yet...www.pitchfork.com