Hakimonu: Mental Illness
Maps & Diagrams: Delius Remixes
Two recent releases on Yair Etziony's False Industries show the label's identity coming into ever stronger focus, even if one of the two is a remix set of an earlier release. The other one, Hakimonu's Mental Illness, is perhaps the more notable for the way in which it seamlessly blends multiple strains into a texture-heavy microhouse-electronica style.
The Israeli producer Hakimonu (real name Assaf Ezra) has issued more than a dozen EPs (most on his own digital Hakimonu imprint), and it's clear he knows how to shape musical material into compelling form. In addition to Mental Illness's five originals, there are four remixes by The Models (Harel Schreiber and Itamar Weiner), Max Schreiber, and Etziony himself. Ezra's material bridges the gap between the microhouse of Jan Jelinek and Luciano and the vaporous ambient-techno of GAS, and, in places, adds in dashes of jazz and funk to go along with it. Interestingly, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to hear “Could Happen” and “Good Through Blue” as lost tracks from Jan Jelinek's Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records sessions. Though a large part of the focus is on electric piano, the crackling, micro-house backings are what connects the tracks so strongly to the 2001 release. The evidence of digital processing treatments, such as the flickering that extends throughout “Visage,” is also reminiscent of that earlier album's rich textural quality. In addition, the ethereal textures haunting “Last” receive a propulsive boost from a snappy minimal techno pulse that insistently pulses underneath its melodic figures.
The remixes are a wildly diverse bunch. The Models' contribution dramatically re-presents Hakimonu's material in fashioning it into an aggressive, old-school house workout replete with 808 beats, claps, and acid synth blaze. Schreiber's bruising “On Surface” remix puts the original through an industrial, post-punk shredder, resulting in the release's most abrasive number. Armed with analog delays and filters, Etziony recasts “Last” as a GAS-styled workout that's heavy on atmosphere and texture, and that nicely kicks in halfway through with an appealing bass-and-drum thump to really send the dub-house track on its way.
More often than not, an EP featuring remixes of a given artist's work will find the pieces embellished rhythmically with beats, especially if the material is ambient-like to begin with. The five versions presented on Maps & Diagrams' Delius Remixes, on the other hand, go in the opposite direction by de-emphasizing beats and re-emphasizing ambient textures and soundsculpting—not that that should come as a total surprise, given the involvement of Pimmon, Ran Slavin, and Yair Etziony as contributors.
On this revisitation of Tim Martin's earlier 2012 digital-only release Delius, Paul Gough's overhaul of “Avalanche” is dubbed a “Pimmon Spelunker” remix—an apt way of acknowledging the material's geological qualities. Much like a prototypical Pimmon piece, the ever-burbling “Avalanche” version seems to have burrowed down into the earth's turbulent bowels such that one hears Maps & Diagrams' original sounds struggling to steer clear of the encroaching lava. Ran Slavin's “Last Man on Earth” dronescape, on the other hand, pulsates like a wobbly plunge into deep space with washes of crackling, echo-drenched radio static as an ongoing soundtrack.Etziony's “Sylvan Spring” opts for a fuller arrangement that includes both ambient treatments and a plodding rhythm dimension. As the piece develops, electric piano shadings and garbled voices emerge, the mood intensifies, and the nine-minute slow-builder re-defines itself as a brooding and grime-laden exercise in atmospheric post-rock. In contrast to the sunny and bucolic spirit implied by its title, “Sylvian Summer” is instead a largely gloomy affair, laden as its ponderous bass pulse is with muffled industrial clamour and kosmische-styled vocal accompaniment. It's nominally post-rock, too, though post-rock of a particularly lugubrious kind. Lugubrious is a word that's probably never been applied to Isan, and on that note the group's “Ship to Shore Remix” of “Yriarte” is suitably uplifting in tone, a relatively brief but memorable reminder of how strongly Isan is able to imprint itself on whatever it touches, even when it's a remix of another's work.