EQD, Equalized #003


Photograph by Szymon Roginski

[Equalized]


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Equalized #003 is not an easy record to identify, and not just because its creator went through reasonable pains to stay anonymous. Both sides of the disc feature thoughtful, hard tripping grooves that feel like they might disintegrate into warm, gooey, and rhythmless piles of mash at any moment. Drums lurch into the mix on one off-beat, never to be seen again; towards the end of the A-side, a house stomp emerges from the techno shuffle: this is a record that makes unpredictability into an art form, using surprise, rather than an emotional sonic palette, to deliver pleasure. On its own, this might not make the latest from EQD worthy of careful discussion. Plenty of tracks in techno history evolve in unexpected ways — I’m thinking now of Jichael Mackson’s dubby rework of Chris Isaacs — but very few producers are skilful enough to avoid using the genre conventions of house and techno enough to let the surprise do so very much of the work.

House and techno are very much creatures of convention. The minor keys of deep house that are everywhere at the moment are but one example of the dozens of characteristics that define the narrow confines in which producers must usually work if they want their records played. Indeed, it’s the subtle manipulations of convention that make dance tracks accessible to one another, and why they can sustain or enhance their meaning so well in mixed form. This characteristic can be a strength or a weakness. But its also vitally important that producers know when to break free, cleanly, from those conventions. Equalized #003‘s plodding organ, tremulous beats, and artfully insecure arrangements, are frustratingly coy genre signifiers. It’s exactly what’s wanted at a moment when too many producers are aping each other in a never-ending quest for authenticity. On the label and in the tunes, Equalized #003 doesn’t identify with any brand. There are plenty of records to be enjoyed as part of one cult or another. With this one, though, it’s better to forget about origins, lifestyle, scene, art and even context, and just enjoy the sonic adventure.

Brophy  on January 19, 2010 at 12:14 PM

i thought it was well-known that shed is behind it?

littlewhiteearbuds  on January 19, 2010 at 12:40 PM

That’s true, although I think Colin was thinking more generally that the series was originally not supposed to be associated with him.

Brophy  on January 19, 2010 at 1:52 PM

i still don’t understand how shed went to great lenghths to disassociate himself from these releases – by the time the first one was out people knew it was him. i don’t mean to be pedantic, but the claim in the intro makes no sense

littlewhiteearbuds  on January 19, 2010 at 2:53 PM

The review doesn’t say “great lengths,” it says “reasonable pains.” He created a series of white labels with no information as to who they were by and did not take credit for them until Marcel Dettmann mentioned it was him in an RA feature (around the time of Equalized #002). So no, he didn’t deny deny deny like Agnes and the Slowhouse series, but the choices Pawlowitz made seem in line with Colin’s reasoning. Even if it’s more obvious by #003, I’d wager the average vinyl shopper is not wholly certain who made it.

Paul S.  on January 19, 2010 at 4:09 PM

This is a functional little tool but man is it dull. Those chords just arent dope enough to be looped over and over for the entire tune. As well, rhythmically, this seems like a step back for Pawlowitz. Gimme more Dub Shed Sessions.

Anton  on January 19, 2010 at 4:16 PM

When does the dull part start, Paul? I’ve listened to this dozens of times and I’m still trying to wrap my head around how those rhythms collapse and spring back up again. Sure, it’s a single chord, but it’s how he plays with the chord, not the chord itself, that’s interesting.

Bootsy Colin  on January 20, 2010 at 9:39 AM

Hi Richard,

I’m giving Shed the benefit of the doubt, that he doesn’t want people’s whole response to this record focused on finding out who made it…

Brophy  on January 20, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Hi Colin,

I’m sure Shed doesn’t want people to focus on who made the record, but that is one of the downsides of releasing anonynmous hand-stamped techno records. People are instinctively curious and want to know who made it – especially if the music is as great as the Equalized series…

cb  on January 20, 2010 at 12:22 PM

i dig how dirty it sounds….

Paul S.  on January 20, 2010 at 4:12 PM

at Anton-
Shed has been experimenting with some really complex rhythms during the past couple years. As well, melodically, his sound has been super deep. Both of these elements–swinging rhythms and deep chords–have disappeared from this track. It’s a step away, imho a step back, from the experimentation I was thoroughly enjoying. No big deal; his new podcast for Fact is all dubstep. He’ll keep trying out new things, no doubt.

RAW  on January 20, 2010 at 5:10 PM

As with all of Shed’s work it sounds superb but for me some of his stuff is just too loopy & this definitely falls into that category. It reminds me of his approach to EQD#001 (although I prefer the sonics on the former) which was about 30 seconds of utterly amazing music but just repeated for 8 or so minutes. As with the former, I think the strength of this track is going to come when being manipulated in the mix.

Colin Shields  on March 20, 2011 at 3:58 PM

Hmm sat this one out at the time but I’m now thinking it’s worth clarifying.. Richard, my point is not that no one knows who made it, but rather that this is a record which isn’t really branded either with a very conventional house or techno style or with a producer’s name, both of which create expectations.

There’s a separate problem of supposedly anonymous records simply creating even more unjustified hype than those who simply put their name on. No opinion on whether this is that or not. But going anonymous here makes sense because the music itself has a construction stripped of some of the identity markers of much house or techno.

I think we’re running into a different understanding of what I mean by identify in the first line. I don’t just mean name the man who made it, I also mean to locate it compared to other records. You’re free to disagree, but perhaps that clarifies what’s going on where you say
the claim in the intro makes no sense

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