Squint hard enough, and Ekoplekz' debut last year on Punch Drunk almost had rhythms that could have fit in with the rest of the Bristol label's dubstep continuum. (Nick Edwards' lumbering liquid limp certainly had low-end heft and analogue decay.) But now, Ekoplekz returns on the label (after a stunning run on Mordant) with a full-length album that pushes the "does-this-really-fit" question to its outermost limits. There's very little on Intrusive Incidentalz Vol. 1 that has an identifiable beat, indeed very little at all that even approaches the accessibility or implicit structure of "Stalag Zero."
For the most part, the end product justifies the aesthetic stretch. The title implies a certain level of improvisation, and the album delivers: it sounds like 40 minutes of a man struggling to control his hardware, fighting to mould it into shapes that are vaguely musical. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he doesn't; on "Mangler Fish" it sounds like he can barely keep the note sequences straight, and on "Clodsteps" the clanking "beats" sound random and haphazard. The moments where he regains his footholds are the most accessible; on "Soviet Drum Brain Attack," the hums of malformed and arcane machinery provide a bed for a single repeating note that decays and regenerates in a manner that almost forms a melody. This manufactured naturalism is the crux that holds the album together and also separates Intrusive from more accessible Ekoplekz works like Mordant's "Fountain Square."
Distortion is the other major theme of Intrusive Incidentalz, a hissy fog that obscures textures. Where so many artists rely on slightly morphing textural maps to make their drones exciting, Edwards is hands-on, riding his synths hard until their shrieks turn into screeching sandstorms ("Devil Mixture") or their forced rhythms let out uncontrollable gasps of grizzled sound ("Terror Danger"). It's distinctly lo-fi and even rudimentary, an album that feels defiantly monaural and scorns details or layering, at least until its closer rolls around. "Maelstrom" sends out rattling feelers like anticipatory hi-hats, gurgling bass notes like arpeggios, and harsh feedback as melodic devices; it's Edwards' own interpretation of the kind of "bass music" that might end up on Punch Drunk, and it's just as exciting as the next salvo from Kahn or Pinch. Maybe it's not such a stretch after all.
Buy Ekoplekz - Intrusive Incidentalz Vol. 1 at
Tracklist: Ekoplekz - Intrusive Incidentalz Vol. 1 01. Neutronik II
02. Stahlman Gas
03. Devil Mixture
04. Critical Condition
05. Mangler Fish
06. Soviet Drum Brain Attack
09. Rogue Circuits
10. Chemical Analysis
11. Psionik Trance