Kingbastard: Bastardize
Herb Recordings

Kingbastard: Tied Up To Machines
Herb Recordings

Machine operator Chris Weeks mans the controls on these two Kingbastard outings, both of which reveal the producer's knack for packing ear-catching beatsmithing and sing-song, eight-bit melodies into ultra-dense, four-minute set-pieces. Though “Tripod” opens the album with a sampling of bleepy, eight-bit synth-pop, Weeks gives the music an unexpected twist by slipping the faint clatter of tabla percussion behind the R2D2 burble. “Mind That Child” shimmies and shuffles through a Casiotone wonderland of chugging beats and candy-coated melodies, while “Goodbye Mr Bendigo” proves he's capable of creating a lovely and restrained ambient setting when the mood strikes. On the rhythm front, check out the beats that hammer and pop with malevolent purpose during “Data Rape - Function Creep” and the crunchy pulse that animates the low-end bass throb and clangorous melodic flourishes of “Boxclever.” Weeks is admittedly a bit of a magpie—it's easy to hear traces of Plaid- and Squarepusher-styled melodic sweetness in “Parenthesis,” the hazy synth melodies in “Data Rape - Function Creep” are straight out of the Boards of Canada production manual, and “Got Milk - Duckstomping” could be mistaken for an early µ-Ziq workout. Having said that, Weeks offers a robust take on fractured IDM where Kingbastard's whirr and click just as often gravitates into Modeselektor's territory as much as Luke Vibert's.

He's also prolific, with Tied Up to Machines closely following on the heels of last fall's Bastardize. The twenty-six-minute EP doesn't deviate dramatically from the album's style, and the newer release's seven tracks could just as easily have appeared on the earlier one without anyone batting an eye. Nevertheless, the EP's opener “Boombox” is an epic, prime-time mover that would remain ear-catching in either context, while “F47G4M3R” perpetuates Kingbastard's penchant for zesty melodicism. The equally titled-challenged “4M813N7RK” provides a delicate, church-like ambient interlude, after which Weeks unashamedly declares his love for all things mechanical in the funky stepper “The Secret Life of Machines” where sampled factory noises collide with rapturously churning rhythms and synth melodies. “Say When” ends the set with a dizzying mix of jaunty beats, turntable scratching, sing-song vocals, and assorted other madness. Here and elsewhere, one welcomes Weeks' refreshing focus on his music's joyful character; certainly no one will accuse of him being dour and po-faced.

May 2009