Nochexxx and Ekoplekz, CHXFX and PLKZFX: even their names sound like a match made in some dystopian cyborg heaven. EXOFERRIC / LATENT ACID (which I’ll subsequently refer to, along with its track titles, in standard typeface, for the sake of aesthetics), their split for Further Records, marks another logical step in the latter’s series of splits and collaborations, as he’s recently teamed up with the like-minded likes of Bass Clef, Drvg Cvltvre, and Wanda Group. As for Nochexxx, the split is — apart from the freely available Greatest Record — his most substantial offering to date, though fans of his EPs on Ramp and Werk Discs will want to approach his side with an open mind.
Dave Henson’s adopting of the CHXFX moniker here makes a lot of sense, as he’s operating in a zone very much adjacent to Ekoplekz’s. It’s mostly accurate to call Exoferric beatless; a few tracks contain pulses, but they’re pretty far removed — rhythmically, at least — from Nochexxx’s brand of mad-scientist house. They do, however, follow the producer’s interest in dissonance and his irregular, alchemical approach to constructing tracks. There’s also something of a nautical theme running through Exoferric. On the volatile arpeggios of “Deepsea Thrasher,” the glacial, otherworldly “Palace Underseas,” or the Subantarctic-placid radio signals of “Format Migration,” Henson conjures scapes of the “zones without people” lineage, running from Jahiliyya Fields and Oneohtrix Point Never back to these tracks’ clearest reference point, Drexciya. Exoferric evokes caustic netherworlds beyond the fringes of humanity; at the end of “Format Migration,” a faded, discombobulated melody slides in like radio interference, signifying that distance.
As for Nick Edwards, PLKZFX’s Latent Acid sounds reasonably similar to his Ekoplekz work, and on first listen I suspect his name change exists for the sake of matching Henson’s. His side is no less eerie, but takes a retrofuturistic sci-fi angle, albeit again partially due to track titles. “Henshin Cyborg” (a proto-”Transformers” action figure), “Horikawa Scout” (a 1960s toy robot), and “Yuusha Raideen” (a “super robot anime series,” according to Wikipedia) all look slightly ominous before you find out what they’re referencing. Then again, there isn’t anything remotely cheery or childlike here, and perhaps this is how Latent Acid differs from his more whimsical moments. Tracks like “Dick Mills Blues,” from February’s Dromilly Vale EP, or “Ferry Cross the Severn,” from 2011′s Memowrekz, seemed to displace typically English folk melodies into a kind of post-industrial, re-pastoral context. Edwards’ tracks here, devoid of any such melody and playfulness, are rigid and tracky, evoking the endless, metallic passages of “THX 1138″ or the imperial ships in the original “Star Wars” films. Although his chunky, burbling dub signatures are intact, the side moves with a slow-prowling, militant hostility, in turn qualifying it as some of his most techno work to date. It’s an appropriately inhuman complement to Exoferric, and every bit as imaginative a statement.