Irony: I haven’t even seen the actual vinyl and fancy artwork for the Green Series, a collab between online music seller Bleep.com, graphic design firm GiveUpArt, and photographer Shaun Bloodworth, and aesthetics are surely a big chunk of this series’ appeal. Maybe the musicians were inspired and decided to rise to the challenge issued by the art? It would be a rare thing â€“ anyone who’s received a lot of promos knows that good packaging is no guarantee of quality tunes. I used to grimace when I would see a hologram or something on CD packaging, for example, because it usually meant the music sucked. And then there’s this, which I actually bought in 1996 despite the fact that the album it came from was so uneven, it makes Prince’s Emancipation look like a masterpiece of curation.
I digress. All four 12-inches are splendidly abstract and addictive, but in this particular Battle Royale there can only be one winner…
In theory I should be the world’s biggest Karenn fan, given that Blawan and Pariah are incredible on their own. Chocolate + coffee beans = heart attack-inducing flavour orgasm! …but not in this case, for me, at least. There are moments toward the end when the rattling snare and sweeping synth patterns threaten to launch your still-beating heart from your chest and send it flying across the room like a hurled tomato, but for the most part this doesn’t hang together for me. I am however not against collabs in general; I quite like The Analogue Cops’ southern rap-style tom-toms and snares popping like popcorn (or AK-47s, but let’s not go there) while the rest of the track cops a hazy spring-showers vibe. Pop your collar for this one.
The newest entry in the Green Series is a study in contrasts. Marcel Dettmann is the biggest name to contribute so far, and his A-side is the most melodic and listenable of the broader batch, if slightly, er, undercooked. The pipe organ melody sounds like something Flat Eric would dance goofily around his apartment to before going out, though the rigid, belligerent beat clearly means business. Stroboscopic Artifacts boss Lucy turns in a much more dry and oppressive slab; the track begins sounding a smidge like the intro to Daft Punk’s Burnin, as though it’s about to break into jaunty filter-y territory, but instead it doubles down on the creep factor with heavily treated hats rattling away, chain-style. (It is called Slaves’ March, after all.) Sure to become a staple at Halloween.
Speaking of things that give you the shakes, I would love to see how clubbers react to something as jittery as Objekt‘s Shuttered. It’s like a sonic house of mirrors, with drums and other tones echoing and swirling in precisely articulated bursts. Videogame makers, the soundtrack to your next flight simulator title is here. Use this one for the flying-through-a-blizzard scene to give gamers fits. Cosmin TRG‘s contribution is more slick, but also gritty, with a trickle of viscous bass coating the filtered (seemingly bitcrushed) shakers and percussion. The low end is voluminous yet indistinct. I keep waiting for it to bust through the surface and eat me like one of the worms in Tremors.
Right-thinking people are naturally wary when a DJ actually wears a mask in their press photos, so Redshape ought to be a tough sell. His Green Series entry, however, is a marvel of restrained energy that combines the best elements of most of the others. The creeping bassline and the skittering hats drive the track forward with mischievous interplay, while the other elements dart in and out of the sonic plane like fireflies. But it’s Dutch producer Steffi who steals the show with an eerie little banger. A European-style cop car siren goes off far in the distance as screechy horror stabs scratch at the surface of the track. Underneath, there’s a punishing groove perfect for a sweaty black-box, one filled with delicious tension. This is the best candidate for a movie chase scene since Hey Boy Hey Girl, and it doesn’t even have a terrible spoken sample for a hook.