Posted by: Jimmy For Reals on June 1, 2014
Photo by Elliot Lauren
Air Max ’97 appears to be making some of the most interesting electronic music in Melbourne right now, as evident from his label debut which dropped earlier this week. Progress and Memory EP comprises four tracks of mutant club music for unhinged dancefloors, filtering aspects of grime, techno and RnB through a cacophony of odd percussion and disorientating FX. Elements of influences from forward leaning labels like Night Slugs to Lost Codes are relatively apparent, but seemingly no more important than basic points of reference for music that capably evades all attempts at categorisation.
Following two interesting but fairly orthodox self-released EP’s, Progress and Memory signifies a step in a more abstract direction, and a welcome one at that. It’s a fairly uncompromising sound, but compelling nonetheless, reminiscent of certain outlying operators (think Girl Unit in Club Rez mode and Nguzunguzu at their most abstract) but whilst many others would temper their tunes with softer, boogie friendly sounds, Air Max ’97 seems content to dwell in comparatively alien realms. His palette is one of frictionless, crystalline surfaces, hardened glass synths and textures stripped back so that the gleaming metal framework shines through from beneath. Recognisable motifs still remain, albeit in warped forms, and by virtue of this he is able to imbue his work with enough soul to connect on a human level, much in the way that Lapalux has with predominantly plastic sounds.
The title track is a strange beast that steps from weightless, detuned synths into Lil Jabba-esque fairground-footwork machinations before eventually morphing into quasi-industrial techno, akin to viewing Ancient Methods through the wrong end of a telescope. The Neana remix that follows is tougher and more direct, bringing in a militaristic swung techno rhythm to devastating effect – it’s a more approachable track in many ways but this just goes to highlight quite how strange and compelling the original is. Closing out proceedings Sleeveless hijacks the dancefloor, bringing an assault of low end, shuffling drums and detuned rave keys whereas Peak Flow represents the most offworld-Grime influenced moment on the EP, sounding not entirely dissimilar to recent Acre moves with its surfeit of alien sounds, hyper-claps and anti-grav drums.
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