The second in Stefan Goldmann's "Prototypes" series, Slap's "Eden Now" is yet another obscure record, rescued from the dustbin of history and presented in a decidedly different context from which it was originally heard—complete with a remix tacked on at its end by an avant-garde leaning producer. (For the initial "Prototype" release, Pépé Bradock remixed Pete Namlook.) Slap is one of the many musical identities adopted by composer Stephen Nester throughout the '80s, a solo project for abrasive tonal experiments and decidedly noncommercial instrumental electronics. "Eden Now" itself is a top-shelf sonic oddball, summoning the great experimental irreverence that was the trademark of groundbreaking industrial-electronic acts like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. It's a self-contained short film: an urban rainstorm, police sirens, a dark jazz-noir of wandering bass warble and evocative trench-coat sax. Then the Raymond Chandler motif fades out into a claustrophobic tunnel of overlaid radio transmissions and hauntingly warped vocal samples, only to culminate in a coda of bass flutter and the deep-chested panting one might associate with the cathartic conclusion of some sudden, unspeakable horror.
The other Slap tracks here are visceral, minimalist workouts. "Minta's Dance" is a relentless two-tone resonant bonk-fest, while in "Night and Day" a menacing cluster of aggressive analog-noise bursts has all the warmth of a haunted Siberian oil refinery. In both, Nester jacks into electronic music's capacity for bare sonic assault, the kind of hostile provocation that the Gristle and others picked up from the Dadaists and Surrealists.
As for Ricardo's role here, what might on the surface seem like as likely as, say, the chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table, turns out in practice to be a seamless intersection of older and contemporary creative energy. The moody meandering of the original "Eden Now" fits, with silken couture precision, into a distinctively skeletal Villalobos groove. The disorienting soundspace of spectral voices are here reduced to incidental cursory bursts, in order to give things over to a pulsing, bubbling mid-frequency ambient-dance remake of the original's dark fedora sonata.
While Slap staged in one song a mini-three piece urban narrative of suspense, hallucinatory climax and unsettling aftermath, Villalobos' update sounds like an extended ride aboard the elevated train rattling across the background. Amid all the usual casual brilliance of Ricardo's production technique, the sonic highlight here is certainly the beautiful layer of shifting hi-frequency hisses, in which samples of rainfall become indistinguishable from layers of brushed cymbal taps. As a whole the track follows a side-winding cinematic build that doesn't reach a steady handclap-centered groove until almost nine minutes. It's one of Ricardo's more free-form "compositional" efforts and it recalls In A Silent Way-era Miles Davis in its lush, organic atmospheres and limber, burbling virtuosity. Makes one wonder what a minimalistisch tribute to Blade Runner might sound like. Seriously, can we get this guy and Lindstrøm some soundtrack work?
Tracklist: Slap - Eden NowA1 Eden Now
A2 Minta's Dance
A3 Night for Day
B Eden Now (Ricardo Villalobos Remix)
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