Kamotek: Loftway
Low Impedance

Pridon: New Steine
Low Impedance

Tokyo Mask: Backbone
Low Impedance

Operating out of Greece, Low Impedance Recordings makes an auspicious debut with EPs by Pridon (Petros Voudouris) and Tokyo Mask plus a full-length from Kamotek. Understandably, the first two demonstrate how beneficial the tight rein of the EP format can be as both discs maintain a clear focus on the matter at hand. In its more conventional moments, Pridon's 25-minute set roots itself in retro-styled IDM that occasionally echoes Plaid in its bright jubilance (“Relax,” with its tumbling beats, off-kilter melodies, and slinky vibe); the disc also adds spasmodic drill'n'bass to the synth washes and staccato burble of “Scruffy.” Considerably more interesting by comparison are the tracks where Voudouris infuses his material with the infectious syncopation of African percussion. The swizzling synths and bouncy beats of “Caretta” are enhanced by shakers and sticks while “Sortman Tales” presents a similarly effective stomp of writhing synth squelches and blips. The disc is nicely capped by Peeky Tayloh's “Relax (remix)” which transforms the original entirely by bringing forth a warm streaming ambiance and emphasizing intricate spindly beat structures.

Tokyo Mask's Backbone is an entirely different animal altogether. If Pridon emphasizes IDM brightness, Tokyo Mask embraces claustrophobic sludgecore. The disc first alternates two longer tracks with nightmarish vignettes and then crowns it with a massive epic. “Valveworm” establishes the mood with dubby, industrial-strength hip-hop that slowly grows louder, denser, and more haunted as layers of grime, distressed whistles, and agonized groans accumulate. “Slowly Backwards” is likewise foreboding, with stumbling beats lurching through the song's center surrounded by disembodied voices. A tsunami of bulldozing beat crunch and seething squalls dominates the ten-minute closer “Semantic Spook” until the beats drop out in its last moments, exposing waves of feedback fuzz and strangulated voices—an incredible though not necessarily pleasant listen.

Initially, the hour-long Loftway sounds like it might end up being nothing more than an overstuffed and fragmented collection of tracks channel-surfing through the usual spectrum of electronic styles (jungle, drum & bass, glitch, hyper-jazz, electronica, breakcore, hip-hop, robot pop): hammering beats, fat bass synths, arcade splashes and bleeps, convulsive rhythms, and chopped voice samples stream through seventeen rambunctious tracks. But along the way, Kamotek drops some truly innovative material that elevates the album above similarly formatted discs. “Darlimond” memorably merges warm spasmodic synth tomfoolery, sliced voices, and tight drill'n'bass beats into a robust confection. With its splayed rhythms of arcade and factory noise, “Loving Loo” initiates an entirely new genre ('metal tribal') while “Velocymbal” merges choking voice slices with blistered funk and hip-hop rhythms. Kamotek's warped sensibility (evidenced by song titles like “Midnight AfroBeaver”) is also welcome in a genre that can take itself too seriously. Contrary to the computer-generated voice intro to the album (“Hello, this album sucks but please give it a listen before you throw it away”), Loftway more than earns its right to multiple listens. In fact, the label's characterization of Loftway as “Donkey Kong on crack throwing barrels at Darth Vader” is pretty much on target.

November 2005