After a series of compilations showcasing various producers from LAs' beat-music scene—a mixture of established names like Dam-Funk, Shlohmo and Daedelus along with label signees like Wake and Lawrence Grey—Proximal doubles down on its own roster with a split EP from the latter two.
Wake is Oakland's Matthew Michael Ahern Hettich, an artist with a particularly lysergic take on beat music. His jumbled productions sound like a sample-based game of rock/paper/scissors that uses echo as a kind of nuclear option, swallowing up everything in cavernous reverb. Listen closely, though, and you can tell that he's got both ideas and range.
"Bye Bye Baby" adopts dubstep's tempo, but it also echoes the jazzy clatter of early Amon Tobin, with muted horns bleating against disintegrating drum breaks and swollen bass. On "My Mermaids," the fog turns a sweet pastel shade, with choral pads rising gracefully from lithe, liquid drumming; the effect is a little like Lukid remixing Grouper. "Murder Party" sounds like the work of someone who has carefully studied Urban Tribe's The Collapse of Modern Culture, while "Oakland Blackouts" renders big beat as a bad trip, swarming with voices and suffocating distortion.
Grey's Claustrophilia applies similarly dusky tendencies to techno, with muffled drum machines kicking away beneath ragged sawtooth melodies, distorted and heavy on the white noise. "Stro" recalls the bluntness of early Profan records as well as the clipped sample play of Smith & Hack; "A" sounds like a more lo-fi take on Motor's brand of darkly dramatic techno. But there's a clear outsider sensibility here, particularly in the tortuous rhythms and unexpected tempo changes of "Clau" and "Li," which recall old Rephlex outliers like Vibert & Simmonds' 1994 album Weirs.
Buy Wake / Lawrence Grey - Oakland Blackouts / Claustrophilia at
Tracklist: Wake / Lawrence Grey - Oakland Blackouts / Claustrophilia 01. Bye Bye Baby
02. Murder Party
03. My Mermaids
04. Oakland Blackouts