M_nus Allstars – Spaceships & Pings
The M_nus Allstars – that is, M_nus regulars/Run Stop Restore trio Troy Pierce, Magda and Marc Houle, along with Wagon Repair main man Konrad Black – inaugurate their new label Items & Things with a stunning EP, ‘Spaceships & Pings’. Black, who scored a massive underground hit last year with his gothic electro-houser ‘Medusa Smile (Don’t Look Back)’, kicks off this 12” with the appropriately named ‘Coma Couch Surfing’. A real departure both from his usual bolshier fare and the rigorously minimal M_nus sound, the track is a cosmic disco cruiser that you might more readily attribute to Lindstrom or Kirk DeGiorgio – with an addictive bass melody and dreamy, swirling synth sounds, this will surely go down well at your more discerning afterparties. So while Konrad Black provides the ‘spaceships’ of the title, the mighty Marc Houle takes it upon himself to deal with the ‘pings’ – his ‘Kicker’ is a tough, insidiously funky tech-houser that sounds at times like a malfunctioning arcade game (in a good way) and has bass drops and scuzzy acid lines to die for. Magda too takes a break from her usual trackier productions, providing a masterful, minimalist take on electro with ‘Black Leather Wonder’ that isn’t a million miles away from classic Autechre. But it’s the closing effort from Troy Pierce that makes this package essential – ‘The Day After Yesterday’ is a plaintive, bare bones house workout, with a strung-out soul vocal and an ascending, almost trancey melody that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Get Physical or Innervisions release. It’s extremely unusual but extremely effective.