An awful lot of reverence is bestowed upon electronic music’s pioneers. As deserved as this respect may be, it’s too often forgetten that in some ways, the first wave had it easy. They had no precedent — whatever they created was going to sound new and exciting. (Though of course, they also had little to build on.) These days, with so many angles already covered, finding fertile ground can be tough. Even the term experimental seems more like a codified genre than it does an adjective. This dilemma would appear to explain the obsession with dubstep last decade, and now, as the re-branded “UK bass,” its continued fusion with house and techno. It’s also the reason why the music of Marcus Kaye, aka Marcus Intalex and Trevino, is so interesting right now.
Kaye made his name with drum and bass. Last August, however, the Brit unveiled the Trevino moniker, a then-unheard side of his personality. Sharing a 12″ with Instra:mental, he offered up a significant piece of electro-step with “Chip.” The thing about that record was that neither side sounded like the work of producers dumping their scene in favor of blindly imitating house or techno. Rather, their respective palettes remained harsh, gritty, and unmistakably drum and bass. It was just the tempo and percussion that changed. With his first two EPs this year, and now, the Discovery EP, the Trevino moniker continues Kaye’s exploration of this relatively fertile area. For those raised on house, “Discovery” would appear packed with deep-house tropes. But coming from a drum and bass angle, liquid’s influence seems just as likely. Call it liquid house then; the track’s surging intensity and dramatic break sure aren’t reminiscent of deep house, even if there are plinking piano chords and dulcet chimes. “Lag” is somewhat quirky, spooling out a simple, three-note bass sequence and supplementing it with various boings and sproings.
The other two tracks are rawer, growling and snarling like rabid dogs. Bass, unsurprisingly, is the key to this side of the record. “Shorty” makes good use of filters, creating the illusion that its spindly, rolling percussion is always rising, somewhat like Richie Hawtin did with his classic “Spastik.” But ultimately, it’s “Tweakanomics” that steals the show, if only due to superbly crafted sounds. Its thudding, fuzzified offbeats almost defy description, but they prove an unshakeable anchor for scuttling 303 and stiff percussion. As records like Photek + Pinch’s Acid Reign attest, these nastier tracks aren’t quite as unique as Kaye’s smoother ones — “Discovery” or “Juan Two Five,” for instance — but they still offer plenty of distinctive thrills. The only question is how much more space this niche has to offer, something which will no doubt be answered by the upcoming Trevino album.