By the late '90s, electro had been absorbing traits of other styles of electronic music for years. While the UK was initially inspired by the sound of Detroit, it had put its own stamp on the form, as had various other scenes around the world. It wasn't uncommon for electro producers to also work in breaks, IDM and, notably, tech house—many killer electro tracks are tucked away on the B-sides of late '90s tech house records. While Scopex is undoubtedly purist in its approach, it's not electro for electro's sake. At their best, these tracks burst out of themselves, leaving the pedantry of genre analysis in a cloud of space dust.
Take "Wav. Form (Mix)" from Simm City. The wobbing bass in the intro wouldn't be out of place in the breakdown of a techstep track, and it's crowned by a sizzling synth tone that scans the scene like a menacing eye. As a dry 808 attempts to cut through the billowing subs, the groove is steadily laced with machine chatter and synth babble. It becomes hard to keep track of what's what as the line between percussion and synth breaks down. A paranoid melody brings things to a fever pitch, only for it all to suddenly vanish, revealing a gorgeous pad whose lilting pitch creates a serene, almost drugged sense of calm. It's a masterful twist that turns an already sickening track into something timeless.
Scopex often makes you feel like you're locked in a sort of audio dog fight. But it's always balanced by an unlikely approachability. No matter how alien and angular things get, there's always an element of funk. The previously unreleased "Optimal Flow" overdoses on roiling, seasick subs. "Knife Edge" handles a monstrous, reptilian bassline with flair, deftly turning audacious and complex sounds into something genuinely catchy. Pollon's "Lost Souls (Mix)" seems intent on stomping your face in, but the weaving bass and strafing lasers make you feel like you've jumped to light speed. On the other hand, Scopex can also be gorgeous, fragile and thoughtful. Simulant's "Musical Box" has the miniature charm and innocence of its namesake, while Pollon's "Lonely Planet" reaches almost Balearic heights with its wide, sweeping synth harmonies.
Perhaps the label was always meant to be a temporary endeavour. But you can imagine, in a moment of insight, that its creators had a sense of what they'd done and realised nothing more needed to be said. When electro recedes back into the background, Scopex will continue to stand apart.
Mon / 29 Jan 2018
01. Simulant - New Machines
02. Simulant - Musical Box
03. Simulant - Wav. Form
04. Simulant - Wav. Form (Mix)
05. Simulant - Track 5 (Locked Groove)
06. Simulant - Knife Edge
07. Simulant - Spectre
08. Simulant - Access Future Audio
09. Simulant - Access Future Audio (Mix)
10. Pollon - Lost Souls
11. Pollon - Lonely Planet
12. Pollon - Intro
13. Pollon - Lost Souls (Mix)
14. Pollon - Xtro
15. Simulant - Optimal Flow