Statskcartsa: Untie E.P.

VA: The Tandem Series 3

When confronted with innocuous music, I'm reminded of Kafka's infamous line about great literature being an axe for the frozen sea within us. Admittedly, it wouldn't be realistic to expect every work to engender an epiphany but, even so, creative work should at least try to reach beyond matters of craft. Such thoughts come to mind as I listen to a new EP by Statskcartsa (Greg Haines) featuring originals plus remixes by CHEjU (Wil Bolton) and Mint (Murray Fisher) plus Statskcartsa's remix of CHEjU's “Pachinko.” Some of the material evidences the syndrome alluded to: an inarguably well-assembled construction of crackling textures, strings, and acoustic guitars, the paradisiacal “April 21st” shimmers beatifically but lacks drama, a malady that likewise afflicts the song's reprise at disc's end. Elsewhere, the background whirr of a projection device nicely frames Mint's 'Cinefilm remix' of “At Long Last” yet it too settles into a kind of vaporous prettiness during its buoyantly skipping middle. Tellingly, the EP impresses most when it's less polite. A heavy rhythm forcefully imposes itself upon the intricate patterns of “Firstly, Summer,” giving the tune some needed heft, and CHEjU gives the steely flutter of “Eisenbahn” a harder edge with the addition of hip-hop beats.

The Tandem Series disc is the third in an ongoing split series, this particular chapter pairing five cuts by UK trio Loveless (a quartet if live visuals are counted) and four by Bristol-based artist Hatchelt. Anything but bland, Loveless grabs your attention immediately by streaming razor-sharp beats and whirring glitch through a MBV blur in “Luh” and then layering ghostly sounds (the glassy kind one generates by dragging a bow across a saw) over propulsive breaks in “I Am John's Memory.” The group finds room for a few lush moments, too, in “Leave Recorded” but sweetens the deal by animating the tune with a lazy lope.

Hatchelt, who creates textured downtempo ‘scapes from guitar, piano, strings, field recordings, and electronics, begins his set with the auspicious stutter and sputter of a field recording in “Sound28a” before wrapping a head-nodding break around a bright piano melody. “Faith” clanks even more insistently but the real ear-catcher is the distorted piano theme and mix of choral and speaking voices Hatchelt drags through it. Though it reveals a warmer side, the plodding “Notsad” is less interesting yet still compels on account of a distinctive thrumming sound design. Needless to say, the engrossing material by Loveless and Hatchelt impresses for being both adventurous and unpredictable.

May 2006