Posts Tagged ‘Serph’

Bearsuit Records – 27th September 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Edinburgh-based Bearsuit Records has established itself as a reliable source of weird stuff, a large proportion of which comes from Japan, a country renowned for producing some of the most brilliantly bizarre music. Needless to say, I’m a fan, and admire label owner Dave Hillary’s unswerving commitment to giving niche artists a home.

A trilling fairground waltz with stuttering microbeats provides the backdrop to the ethereal vocal on the title track, leading the listener into the weird and wonderful world of Haq, which is a collaborative musical vehicle for Japanese duo N-qia (Nozomi and Takma, the latter of whom is renowned in certain cult circles for his eight albums released under the Serph moniker) and the ultra-prolific Ediburgh based enigma that is Harold Nono.

Evaporator is a quintessential Bearsuit release – meaning, it’s way, way out there, strange and bewildering, in the most otherworldly sense. Evaporator is an album that more or less defines cognitive dissonance. It’s a headfuck, but that’s not a criticism. We need to be challenged: all too often, we’re presented with sonic chewing gum and shrug and think ‘yeah, that’s ok’. Ok is not ok, of course: we’re swimming in a sea of mediocrity and we need to break free of is tireless tide.

It’s all going on – at once – on ‘Dustboy Horrorshow’, which collides dreamy post-rock with pounding double-speed beats before taking a brief turn for the heavy in the midsection, before the industrial grind is dispersed in a ripple of fairy-lit world music to fade. And it only gets weirder and more incongruously juxtaposed from hereon in.

Ballistic beats and floaty mellowness collide, and often, as they explore the space between The Cocteau Twins and the Prodigy and somehow, in their state of dementure, attempt to bridge it by fusion. This shouldn’t work, and in places, it doesn’t, but that’s all the more reason to celebrate their efforts: experimentation and collaboration shouldn’t be about perfection, and even necessarily about the end product. The creative process is what matters.

That said, the end product, weird and baffling as it is, has more than its share of moments, and this five-tacker comes with a bunch of remixes of the EP tracks as well as an alternative mix of ‘Bees in My Feet’ from 2013’s Nocturnals. The approaches to remixing are ide-ranging and varied, and serve to highlight just how eclectic the composite elements of Haq’s original compositions are.


Haq – Evaporator

Noble – NBL-221 – 15th April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Reliq is Serph. What’s the difference? Serph’s compositions are typically dream-like and utopian in their stylings, while Reliq’s work are edgier and more dance orientated. So says the press release. Life Prismic is the third album by Serph in his Reliq guise, and draws on music from a vast array of cultural and geographical origins for forge something

Life Prismic jangles and jingles, wows and flutters with swerving, loopy grooves and rippling rhythms which run into and across one another from perpendicular angles.

Plinky-plonk house piano tropes are bent and twisted through funnels of mellow head-nodding hipster dance vibes. The hyped-up chipmunk energy of ‘Ceramic Samba’ is nothing if not energetic, with flickering, clippy beats and hyperactive, pitched-up vocals. It demonstrates a playfulness at work, as well as a serious overdose of sugar, and it’s enough to leave anyone feeling vaguely giddy with the surging uptempo headrush.

Gentle, bleepy chillout zones are conjured with in between spaces, with xylophones and lad-back beats creating moments of comparative tranquillity, and ‘Morocco Drive’ introduces a range of strings and woodwind over a drifting synth to create an enigmatic, ethereal and exotic atmosphere before a frenetic drum ‘n’ bass rhythm powers in.

Each track bursts outward and reaches in multiple directions over its course: there’s nothing predictable about any of the structures or arrangements. Jazz licks, samples and other vocal snippets, bhangra beats and abstract incantations are all whipped into the same mix as thumping 4/4 dancefloor-orientated rhythms, and ‘Rain No More’ manages to pack in a low-down and dirty funk mid-section into its eclectic hybrid form.

It’s rather difficult to know exactly what to make of Life Prismic. In terms of ideas, it’s an explosive riot. That said, some of those ideas develop into recurrent themes over the course of the album, which in some respects diminishes their impact. But with 13 tracks and a running time in excess of an hour, there comes a point where it feels like overkill. No matter: in smaller chunks, Life Prismic is an entertaining listen.

Rwliq - Life Prismic