Exillon: Prequiem
Component Records

Xyn: Outputsquare
Component Records

Mochipet: Feel My China Vol. 1
Component Records

Established in 1999, the Connecticut-based Component Records imprint issues techno, industrial, IDM, and drum & bass material while also maintaining close ties to the Boston and Vancouver electronic music communities. A trio of new releases by Exillon, Xyn, and Mochipet affords an ideal opportunity to investigate the label's current sound.

You'll find scant information about Exillon or his music at either the Component site or the artist's own (aside from his purported real name Jay Fields). We can report, however, that the hour-long Prequiem features fourteen tracks (including remixes of songs by Donna Summer and Lexaunculpt, plus remixes for and by Mochipet) firmly rooted in the familiar cyborgtronic tradition developed by labels like Warp and Schematic and artists like Autechre and Richard Devine. True to the sonic signature, lush church tones butt up against scurrying, spasmodic breakbeats and a grimy babble of whirrs, smears, and clicks. Exillon adds analog flavour to the acid-tinged “Snow Gear” and the writhing “Revert” while generally anchoring pieces with strong beat structures like crushing breakcore (“XL Lonie,” “Acid Panda Laptop Death”) and slamming jungle (“Spin”). Needless to say, the album's best moments occur when the beats kick hardest, the punchy snare pops that burn through the clanking synth-funk of “Reluctant” a case in point. The best moments arise during “Headache” when Exillon merges loose, hip-hop-flavoured beats with dramatic tonal atmospheres, a song rendered all the more appealing for being less reminiscent of others' styles.

Slightly more information is available for Xyn, the alias Josh Garrett adopted in 1995. Influenced by the Detroit and Ann Arbor electronic scenes of the early ‘90s, Xyn's Outputsquare encompasses IDM of both the bubbly (“State and William, 3:03 am”) and synth-kissed sort (“Inurspursia (Output Mix)”), acid techno (the grimy “Oxidizer” and the jacking “Blister Pack” and “S'Jak”), and atmospheric glitch (“A Dog's Sense of Boundary”). Doom-laden synth textures and pounding beats bring a darker ambiance to “Debris Field” while piano ruminations contrast memorably with punchy pinprick beats in “Blather.” Like Exillon's, Xyn's music impresses most when it attacks with aggressive force. In two of the album's strongest pieces, an intense groove of spacey synth coils and downtempo head-nodding rhythms builds hypnotic tension in “Mimik”, and cymbal-crashing breaks boost the acidy punch of “Detroit and Fifth, 3:03 pm.” That there's a slight resemblance between Xyn's logo and Aphex Twin's is telling: while compositionally credible and expertly executed, Xyn's music could be more individuating and unique.

With its hefty assortment of punishing breakcore remixes, Feel My China Vol. 1 by Mochipet (aka Taipei, Taiwan-born David Y. Wang) is clearly the anomaly of this Component trio. Every remixer appears similarly afflicted with attention deficit disorder, as tracks morph frenetically through multiple episodes in cacophonous style. Decapitating breaks in DevNull's throat clearer “This polka will only hurt a little remix” establish a lethal precedent at the outset though not every piece is quite so pulverizing. Some pieces hew closer to that template (Drop The Lime's metallic “Backyard Skull Wrestling School mix”) while others travel less familiar routes: Etschaberry and Donna Summer/Jason Forest work gamelan elements into their cuts, Cyozlab inserts a melodic piano episode into the middle of “Toxic Hemp Emir Mix,” and Damiak brings subtlety to “konstrukt still <3's IDM Mix” by emphasizing guitar-driven post-rock over breakcore. And though Gregorian chant opens Skymall's “Cuti Sadda vs. Mochipet Appraisal on the Altar Mixxx,” such moments of peaceful calm quickly give way to funky breaks and a creepy Darth Vaderesque voiceover. The album's a non-stop slaughterhouse ride that, come album's end, will have no doubt wearied those less partial to the breakcore genre. Depending on your point of view, Mochipet's promise of a Feel My China Vol. 2 (with contributions from Mad E.P., Kero, 8FM, and others) will seem either a cruel threat or cause for celebration.

July 2005