Dance music has always had a DIY spirit that puts punk to shame. Not in a band? Just put on some records. Can’t play an instrument? Buy a sequencer. Can’t get signed? Start your own label. It is this mindset that brings us Disco Nihilist’s first release, in both literal and aesthetic terms. Label Love What You Feel is masterminded by Thomas Cox — proprietor of infinitestatemachine and frequent LWE commenter — who discovered the Austin, Texas producer’s work through Myspace. The process of putting out the record (no surprise, it’s vinyl only) has even been documented in a series of posts on ISM. The label seems to be aptly titled; this is not the work of professionals or insiders, but of dedicated fans.
It is not only the release of the record that bears the traces of that bricolage approach characteristic of early dance music. The press release proudly proclaims that Disco Nihilist not only produces his tracks on analog sequencers, he records them to cassette tape. It sounds like it. No movie-soundtrack pads here, no swooshing breakdowns, no Pro-Tooled diva vocals. If this record is out of touch with the present, it’s because it reclaims the music of the past’s insistence on sounding like the future. While overproduced dance music makes use of technology in a manner reminiscent of Transformers 2, Disco Nihilist’s work is more like Shane Carruth’s 2004 masterpiece Primer: low budget, low profile, and highly awesome.
These four untitled tracks are clearly made by someone who loves house music, has studied it closely, and has trimmed it down to essentials. Snare rolls and kick flutters on “A1″ weave through insistent chords and a funky 303, with deep, meditative results; “B2″ makes a similar formula dark and aggressive. “A2″ is a sparse workout for blips and beeps, while the dubby, spaced-out “B1″ milks an 808 cowbell for all it’s worth. Which is a hell of a lot, in case you were wondering. This record is an auspicious debut for both artist and label — hopefully the future brings not just more from them, but more like them as well.