Two Fourteen: Camuy
Pyramid Transmissions

Vetrix: Next Phaser
Pyramid Transmissions

If they haven't already done so, devotees of Ai Records and similarly-styled imprints should do themselves a favour and check out Pyramid Transmissions' wares. The London-based label, founded in 2000 by Andy Jaggers and John Cranmer (aka ADJ and Pathic, respectively) and named after the Pyramid record store run by Jaggers at the start of the decade, specializes in a fresh electro-techno that has old-school roots in the ‘90s but is also clearly oriented towards the future.

On the basis of his Camuy five-tracker, TwoFourteen (aka Seattle-based Chris Roman) clearly knows his way around an android electro-funk beat or two (not to mention alien landscapes). Having been influenced by the likes of Monolake and Two Lone Swordsmen, it's no surprise that TwoFourteen's sound is polished. It's heady stuff; though there are moments when Roman strips his sound back to little more than beats, it's more often than not packed with detail. “Fake Furs,” for example, proves almost dizzying in its mix of rapid pitter-patter, voice croaks, and synthetic elements, as does “Single Speed” with its brooding tones, popping mechano beats, and general clangour. “Flopsock” serves up a booty-shaking blend of electro, techno, and funk that's downright nasty, while “Dropscotch” carves a path between futuristic episodes and skeletal beat-based electro-funk in a manner that suggests Roman's got a promising second career as a sci-fi soundtrack composer.

On the basis of Next Phaser, Vetrix's tracks are even more dense and hard-hitting than TwoFourteen's. The Lisbon-based Vetrix is also a sound designer, a fact that becomes abundantly clear the more one listens to the EP's four electro-techno workouts. “Dirty Oranges” presents a wide-screen mix of beats, distorted voice samples, and blinding synthetic colour, while speaking voice fragments splinter across aggressive funk rhythms and cyclonic atmospheres in the aptly-titled “Molecular (des)Integration.” Abetted by an acidy front line of squealing 303s, “Myon Zekt” injects its brain-addling ambiance with a punishing, hyperactive groove. That the lush closer “Next Phaser-Leader1” brings the lights down a bit lower comes as a welcome relief after the intensity of the other three stormers. Vetrix's material bursts with barely-contained energy, which makes one look all the more forward to the release of a twelve-track album scheduled for March, 2010.

December 2009