Gunnar Haslam, Mimesiak

[Long Island Electrical Systems]


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When it comes to L.I.E.S., my most frequent thought is: where did it come from? Mid-way through 2011, Ron Morelli’s Brooklyn-bred label was just starting to make real waves, with records from Legowelt, Terekke, and Marcos Cabral. There were seven records that year; an impressive feat for a one-man operation. Last year, he released a staggering 21, many of them from hitherto unknown names. That number puts L.I.E.S on equal footing with huge, long-running labels like Rush Hour, Delsin, and Clone. But here’s the real kicker: most of those records were 12″ singles. This year, Morelli looks set to take things to the next level once more with a round of albums. Mimesiak is just one of those, and it comes from Gunnar Haslam, a producer about whom very little is known. At the time of writing, the New York-based artist had just 68 followers on SoundCloud. Many of them probably arrived after reading about the album. His name, almost certainly a nom de plume, gives nothing away: Google says “Gunnar” is a Nordic first name meaning “soldier,” and “Haslam” is an Old English surname meaning “lives under the hazel tree.” Sigh. Shall we talk about the music then?

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Haslam himself might be shrouded in mystery, but one thing’s certain: his music is perfectly suited to L.I.E.S. Reaching that conclusion isn’t quite as straightforward as it might be with another label, though. Over the past three years, the label’s horizons have proven broad, encompassing such things as jagged industrial, rusty techno, and surfer house. And yet, each record seems to have an intrinsic quality which unites it with the rest of the catalog. Grittiness? Attitude? I don’t know. But Mimesiak has it, whether rolling out acid, spoken word, plodding techno or one of its many hand-drum-loaded, quasi-tribal tracks. The result is an album of gloomy, mildly dystopian textures, but which somehow seems more about natural environments than urban ones. In “Scheherazade,” for instance, the ebb and flow of greasy melody and cantering drums feels too panoramic to describe anything man-made. The same goes for “Anatolia,” where droning vocals and oddly pitched drums sound more windswept than anything else. If these tracks evoke anything, it’s an exhausting horseback trek through a country-sized desert.

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A large part of this vibe can also be attributed to Haslam’s slow-motion arrangements, which err on the side of repetition. “B61,” for example, sees a blipping acid sequence repeat for three whole minutes before a hi-hat arrives to boost the intensity. “He Came from the Border” takes things even further, alternating between two plain vocal samples to beat out a syllabic mantra: “beliefs/ uh/ repeat/ and/ god.” It’s almost totally devoid of typical melody or percussion, yet proves one of the album’s strongest moments. That Haslam is able to forge such compelling audio from so little speaks volumes about his skill as a producer. And perhaps that’s the quality that unites the artists of the distinctly no-frills L.I.E.S., in fact: making the best of fairly modest sounds. Most of Mimesiak can certainly be classified this way, regardless of each track’s individual character. “Just For Me” has a strong allure, even if its metronomic purrs aren’t overly striking on their own, while in “Cat Superhighway” (Version), the ubiquitous 303 gets dialed down to a low-key wiggle, proving far more seductive than usual. Even the classic-sounding “Culver Viaduct,” the album’s dubby conclusion, culminates in a surprisingly elated fashion. At the end, Haslam’s physical identity may not be any clearer, but you’d be silly to care. Gently hypnotic, Mimesiak is the kind of album that will leave you wondering where that last hour went, over and over.

Nick Connellan  on September 14, 2013 at 11:52 PM

I felt silly when I found out about this today: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheherazade

Trackbacks

Little White Earbuds July Charts 2013 | Little White Earbuds  on August 3, 2013 at 9:56 AM

[…] Records] (buy)Staff Charts:Brandon Bussolini 01. Redshape, “Bulp Head” [Delsin] 02. Gunnar Haslam, “Billowing Black Cloud” [Long Island Electrical Systems] 03. Jordan GCZ, “Crybaby J” [Off Minor Recordings] 04. […]

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