Aardvarck: Anti-Concept
Eat Concrete

While Choice, Mike Kivits's 2010 collection of Aardvarck tracks, focused on the hip-hop-influenced side of his music-making, Anti-Concept aspires to eschew musical genres altogether and concentrate on atmosphere over style. I'm not wholly convinced Kivits's third full-length album for Eat Concrete Records succeeds in that regard, as genres such as dubstep, ambient, and dub most assuredly do sneak their way into a goodly share of the recording's twenty-seven tracks, but it's hardly a critical point, one way or the other; certainly it wouldn't be inaccurate to state that much of the material does tend towards the atmospheric more than the overtly melodic. Regardless, it's a satisfying and wildly diverse collection of mostly new material (some if it appeared on previous Eat Concrete and Bloom releases) that never stays in one place for too long—not that it very well could when most tracks are in the two- to three-minute range—and samples liberally from a range of sources such as Fennesz, Talk Talk, and Jon Hassell. Don't think, however, that Kivits is the lazy kind of producer who simply pairs a sample with a beat and considers a track finished, even if the closing track, “Arvo Snake,” does exactly that in coupling the string part from Arvo Pärt's “Fratres” (from Tabula Rasa) with a swinging beat. That piece aside, the tracks, though largely sparsely arranged, are carefully built up from numerous elements, and the samples largely lose their identifying character when they're woven into the intricate fabric of the pieces.

“Gubby” plays like dubstep for pre-schoolers, what with its buoyant sing-song melodies and skipping beat pattern, while “Leuk He! Over Chord” is slow-motion instrumental hip-hop heavy on brooding atmosphere. Halfway through, the album perks up when a succession of bass-thudding workouts rolls out: first up is “Afrika Slang,”  trippy and tribal dubstep that's equally earthy and woozy; “Stay Stupid,”  a slice of bleepy and funky downtempo; and “Bloom 2 Mix,” a slithering sub-bass crawler. Elsewhere, a Chewbacca moan spikes the bleepy dancehall-dub of “Beukeboom,” an ethereal choir's wordless presence turns “Aaah” into a kind of minimal ambient-funk, and softer moments emerge in a couple of string-based settings (“Hope Not Dope,” “Sandor vs Pig Talk Beat”). There are also minimal ambient-drones (“Six,” “Bosche Bol”), bass-heavy breaks (“Duh”), rootsy dub (“Bloom 1A1”), shuddering boom-bap (“Spees”), and downtempo synth-funk (“Wall E Synth”), and if by album's end, you don't come away with an entirely clear picture of who or what Aardvarck is, you'll certainly have found yourself entertained and your time rewarded.

October 2011