S-Max & Spatial, Schmorgasbord 002


Photo by David Maisel

[Schmorgasbord]


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The first release from Schmorgasbord, the new Bristol-based label focusing around collaborations, had city icons Appleblim & October collaborate on two tracks. The second nails the concept even better, taking two solo tracks from two very different producers and having them remix each other. The guests of honor the second time around are abstract house/garage mad professor Spatial and Austrian house magnate S-Max. There’s a clear dichotomy between the two, and S-Max plays the strait-laced straight face to Spatial’s loopy and skewed maniac, and the EP’s dual remix concept allows for a fascinatingly transparent perspective into how both of these producers work.

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S-Max is up first with his “Ms. Rosen Dub,” a slow, methodical track that hobbles on an unstable kick, wobbling with each hit like it’s striking unexpectedly solid ground each time. The track develops very slowly, with a spiky descending bass line that juts out from harsh angles, and slightly detuned, eerie chords that paint it like a deep house track on a particularly potent psychoactive trip. Spatial’s “Size 9 Stomp” rework relocates the track’s energy into a much faster, more confident kick pattern, and bunches up those sustain chords into bursts of melodic melodrama. The bass line sounds less out of place when it’s interrogating the tiny spaces in Spatial’s compressed construction, and his rework provides a UK-friendly spin on S-Max’s otherwise purely continental house music.

On the flipside, Spatial’s “Corti” sounds like one of his usual garagey experiments polished up to stand comfortably next to someone like S-Max. Unlike many of the tracks on his recent Infrasonics label compilation, “Corti” is made up of full, emphatic sounds, the organ tone inflated and pulled apart at will and all white space colored in with vocal gasps and extraneous percussive accents. Taking the opposite angle of Spatial’s reworking strategy, S-Max uncoils the tightly wound energy of “Corti” and revels in the slow-motion unraveling spin of it all and throwing a surprisingly dubstep-compatible drum pattern underneath. All the emphasis is placed on an echoing snare hit that’s surprisingly thrilling for the whole duration, and once the song reaches its final few minutes it’s a glorious mess of perpetually diving bass lines, shuffling percussion, and subtle bass stabs that makes the whole track feel like it’s a permanent state of jiggle. By pairing someone who makes comparatively straightforward beats with a producer like Spatial who is best at making familiar ideas sound as strange and alien as possible, Schmorgasbord provides an intriguing look inside the mechanics of house music production, almost as if the existence of yet another new label based out of Bristol is suddenly justified.

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