Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stacian / Gel Set split 12" EP "Voorhees" on Moniker Records

Voorhees is the title of a split 12" from Chicago based bands Gel Set and Stacian on Moniker Records. Both are essentially solo artists working in a minimal, electronic style both finding unique end results in this perfect pairing of artists by the outsider label.

Gel Set’s “Love On Video” has a lone live sounding tom joined by a high timpani snare but from here on in it’s anything but human. Ethereal longing vocals from Laura Callier float somewhere above repeating the title of the track over and over. Like Charlie Hilton of Blouse on “Videotapes” it’s about that nostalgic version of the future. Familiar but didn’t exactly happen, it’s an odd sounding dance track. The rhythm replaces at random the various percussion hits ending up with a random looped rhythm made out of an array of sounds that would only be playable in this virtual space. More layers of synths cooly work their way over the top of this. As much as she builds up this foot tapping rhythm that’s almost tearing it apart. It’s dense and minimal with room for so much more but the thin strands of raw sine waves are strung all over the place. It’s the perfect balance creating within the parameters of technology and then trying to subvert them to your own internal logic. “Hong Kong Long Con” is the catchiest track of the side, it revs up immediately running from the first track into this with no breaks with a frantic Ashrae Fax sounding boundless synth that’s been run through endless delay and bouncing across a neon grid. Handclaps and cowbells piled up into an undeniable groove with hovering vocals on another plane possibly redefining what dance could be, as if there was still a floor somewhere playing underground artists to audiences purely there to move. There’s a long pause before the manic sounding “Never Never Dance” winds up. Out of tune sounding wooden notes fell off the shelf and landed on the busted midi controller. It’s a feat in and of itself, to deliberately be able to warp mechanical sounds to an off the grid place or where they were never intended to go at least. Laura’s vocal is barely present, no layers this time, just a single voice slowly talking, pushed under the oppression of this rhythm sounding like all those black keys. 808 clicks and whirs add up to a regulated chaos. Push the button, hit ‘run’ and wait as this soundtrack plays. The broken machines just won’t shut up. They don’t have any idea of how long to keep this undanceable track going but the record had to run out sooner or later.

Stacian’s Side starts out with “Ice Hole” and her sound works against the softer, rounded tones of Gel Set’s side. Stacian is drawn to those extremes of detachment and this loop is harsh. She manipulates the sounds here almost immediately bringing a sense of DIY and humanity when the dials starts to get twisted in real time. The vocals are a place holder bouncing around through the background, blaring away in the under a thousand delay’s pinging off themselves unrecognizable - only an abstract version of a vocal leaving things open for interpretation in all of this hypnotising detail. “Airlock” includes Billy Dimmit playing a string synth and I’m imagining massive upright boards of ¼ inch holes for fistfulls of crossing cables. A lot of these sounds change and shift with each other but they aren’t meant to harmonize or sync up in any way. Her vocal feels like it has more of a breathy sound here along with religious samples that always reference industrial era bands like Meat Beat Manifesto for me. She manages to coax out the harshest analog sounds normally known for their warmth but these synthesized tones are anything but natural or organic. It’s oscillating squares and triangles buzzing and whining into each other. The track gives Stacian an extremely large space to roam and showcase her skill at teasing switches and dials into a singular magnetic vision.

Pick this up from Moniker Records.

Great packaging with a half sleeve of thick screened card stock, hand numbered an edition of 500.

Stacian’s previous release is long sold out from Moniker but they’ll be releasing a full length from Gel Set later this year.

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