Ezekiel Honig/Graphic: Love Session/1000 Remix EP
Ezekiel Honig: People Places & Things Sampler
Somone Else: Ploosh
One's attention naturally gravitates towards a label's latest output but back catalogues shouldn't be overlooked. Three 2004 vinyl discs issued by Microcosm—one by Someone Else and two involving label-head Ezekiel Honig—sound as strong today as they likely did upon their initial release.
Put simply, the two Someone Else (Sean O'Neal) originals on Ploosh are incredible. Immersively deep, the title cut begins like an amplified snake slithering through a sticky swamp of spattering bacon grease, then shifts into an almost hoedown episode, before a bullwhip snare rights the rhythmic ship and sets it on its pumping industrial-techno course. Morgan Packard then gives the tune a stoked overhaul that's as close to jazz as drum & bass, and renders the original almost unrecognizable in the process. On the flip side, O'Neal drapes tongue-tied mouth effects, phantom voices, and spacey synth stabs over a clickety-clack jack in the jubilant “Gushball” before bringing the ingredients to a rollicking broil. In a restrainedly funky remix, Honig chills the track's breakneck pace to warm it by a glowing Rhodes fire.
Honig and Graphic (David O'Brien) remix each other on Love Session/1000 Remix EP, with Graphic's overhaul of “Love Session” paired with Honig's original (from the Technology is Lonely full-length) on side one, and Honig's treatment of Graphic's “1000' joined by Honig's “Daily Human Emotions” on the flip. The two versions of “Love Session” are like night and day: Honig places the song's minimal theme at its center, underlays it with a clicking pulse, and then strategically sprinkles swirls of found sounds and voice fragments over top; Graphic gives the tune a rippling drum & bass treatment capped by an all-consuming bass snarl. The off-kilter techno-funk of the B-side's “1000” feels almost Tejada-like, though Honig's sensibility is clearly evident here too. At disc's end, a mammoth bass barrels forth in “Daily Human Emotions” before Honig subverts the straight-up 4/4 strut with jazzy keyboard figures and chopped voice fragments.
John Tejada leads off the People Places & Things 12-inch (issued on Single Cell, the label name briefly adopted prior to Microcosm) with a sleek tech-house treatment of Honig's “Cape Cod Getaway” original. True to form, Tejada deftly works his customary magic, infusing the tune with a surging gallop and spectral shimmer that's well-nigh irresistible. Honig opts for a less frenetic pace on his entrancing “More Human Than Human,” filling it with gauzy tones and gentle pulses. With its croaking voice snippets and minimal keyboard theme, side two's “Green Tea” is trademark Honig yet, bolstered by handclaps and a booming sub-bass, it's also more uptempo and funkier than the norm, while the slightly calmer “Winterspring” still exudes a funk feel albeit in a subtler and more ruminative manner.
Despite being a few years old, the three releases remind us of the distinctive contribution Microcosm has made to the ‘techno minimalism' scene, and how much it has helped enrich and extend what could have been a too-constricting template.