Leisure Muffin, Clay Wilson, The Bunker New York 001 & 002

yasuaki onishi 6[3]
Artwork by Onishi Yasuaki

[The Bunker New York]

New York’s The Bunker parties have a reputation for their length and ambition, booking a wide range of techno and experimental artists for extended sets, often in unexpected formations. In 2012, founder Bryan Kasenic told The Village Voice, “a lot of what we do is 4/4, but it’s not this random, chugging tech-house background music to your K-hole.” Judging by these 12″s by Leisure Muffin and Clay Wilson, Kasenic intends the party’s eponymous label to embody these preferences as well.

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Both producers maintain an interest in modern classical and jazz styles alongside techno, and this is superficially evident — Leisure Muffin’s “In Wearable Hertz” features a violinist, Elizabeth Warren, and Wilson, according to his press release, studied improvisation with jazz musicians. It is one thing to claim this sort of hybrid and another to make it work, though. Dance music has definitely witnessed some ill-fated crossovers. Luckily, the only “crossover” is noticeable on Leisure Muffin’s record, on the first track, and it is a highlight. “In Wearable Hertz” reminds of a techno Peter Gordon, particularly something like “Beginning Of The Heartbreak / Don’t Don’t.” There is the same sort of elegiac mix of synthesizer and live instrumentation, the same sort of light-breaking-through-the-clouds crescendo into a rousing second act. Its companions “Heldscalla,” with its echoing chords and flexing bass line, and the sputtering, rippling “Alys,” are more mid-set material, but both seem conceived by similarly alchemistic measures. This is a kind of symphonic dance music, produced with great attention to sound design.

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Clay Wilson’s record has this in common with it, but its three tracks are moodier, exhibiting The Bunker’s connection to artists like Donato Dozzy and Sandwell District. The producer’s improvisational skill comes to the fore on a piece like “Socorro,” which ends up in a frenzied squall of synthesized seagulls and Hoover-ish helium horns, carefully deployed so as to feel, remarkably, calmingly hypnotic. “Oizumi” uses precise phasing techniques to achieve a kind of strobe effect, while “E4” hews closest to the likes of Dozzy and Sandwell District, with a tunneling, rite-like core groove offset by an array of dreamy, occasionally Mills-ian echoes. Most satisfying about both of these releases is how robust they are, and how detailed without being fussy — miles away from “background music to your K-hole.”

TheBunkerNY  on February 5, 2014 at 6:29 PM

thanks for the thoughtful review. wanted to add that these are currently available digitally exclusively through our bandcamp: http://thebunkerny.bandcamp.com/

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