Friday, 11 March 2011

RECOMMENDED: Kassem Mosse - Workshop 12 [Workshop]

A series of destructively brilliant 12”s have swiftly shifted Kassem Mosse’s profile from little-known purveyor of slo-mo, deconstructionist techno to something of a spearhead for a particular strain of house music. Along with his contemporaries and friends on the Workshop label (particularly Lowtec and Even Tuell), as well as UK devotees like Kowton, Instra:mental and Joy Orbison, his is a slowed-down, sub-heavy and druggy sound. Its overall effect is intoxicating in the extreme, insistent analogue grooves transposed into odd new dimensions and sounding liable to crumble at any second. With its obsession with bass, space and swing, it’s perhaps unsurprising that his music’s been picked up and widely adored by large swathes of the UK’s bass scene.

Mosse’s music is one of stasis, of single moments looped and stretched out into infinity, of single grooves allowed to run their course until they simply fall away. That was immediately evident on his earlier Workshop releases - the stuttering electro of Workshop 03’s A-side is a particularly potent example – as well as the build-release churn of the subtly anthemic ‘578’ (the Omar-S remix of which was the highlight of last year’s Freerotation festival). It’s even more explosively apparent in his sprawling live sets, which send minds into an even more extreme version of his recorded output’s fucked tunnelvision.

But if his recent 12” on Kinda Soul was Mosse at his warmest and most welcoming, its finest moment ‘Thalassocalyce’ emitting the same vaguely dystopian glow as Autechre’s Amber, this new Workshop release finds him at his most forbidding. Its tracks operate at faster pace than his usual narcoleptic, smacked-out tempo, but appear locked into even darker moods than usual. The untitled A-side sets up the same sort of infinity loop, but this time with a short and stammering vocal sample which hangs in space above his familiar, albeit peculiarly muted, bass gurgle. The main B-side’s rattling drum syncopations and uneasy, sinister drone constitute an inversion of deep house stereotypes - music of alienation and separation, despite its distinctly human warmth. It’s just as effortlessly beautiful though, and its soft pulses of melody imply something else again, tiny flickers of hope in a sea of darkness.

It’s Mosse’s finest contribution to the unerringly on-point Workshop label so far, and sits neatly alongside his best work. And as ever, excitingly, with another release for Nonplus in the pipeline, it feels like just the tip of a mighty, mighty iceberg.

Words: Rory Gibb // Out: Now

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