This guest post was written for us by Liar about his own recent EP release, Scorpio, released on August 18 on Infinite Machine. As he's done for us with previous releases in the past, this is a seriously deep read on each track of the EP, his most club-centric effort yet.
This entire EP’s genealogy can be traced to when a single event: when I first mashed up French Fries’ “Machine”, Loefah’s “Veal” and Fatima Al Qadiri’s “Hydra” during a set (you can hear it this happening at the 37:09 mark here, for reference), and I was astounded by how well the wildly stylistically disparate tunes functioned as a single, potent club entity.
It was a short time after that when I asked myself: why is it that every club track that I love is, nevertheless, so stylistically confined, both in intention and execution, to its place of origin? Of course, authenticity has a lot to do with it, but authenticity stems from long exposure to past forms of the art, and so many artists nowadays have listening habits so varied and seasoned that they could authentically explore any medium.
Why can’t UK slo-jungle, war dub grime, eski grime, and diva-laden 4/4 blend with Paris Club Music, or with the non-functional, artful music that is often remixed by peddlers of said club fare (especially when they frequently successfully inhabit the same sets)? Why can’t borderless cross-breeding go farther than the French scene respectfully biting Night Slugs’ manifesto, and expanding upon it, or Nguzunguzu and Egyptrixx kinda borrowing from Fatima or Oneohtrix but not really? And why the fuck is techno sacrosanct and trance anathema?
Because cliques, is why. But since I’m woefully remote from almost everything, in that sense, I was in a unique position to do what only brave souls such as Surkin, Canblaster or Para One had even attempted before - which is to re-unite all strands of club music, to breed a dancefloor chimera for the now.
Now, this one has existed in many forms. About a year ago, it was only a club tool, inspired by the very specific take on grime on XPNL001’s “Slick”, and only marginally more maximalist. After multiple gigs where it absolutely destroyed, I decided it would be the lead on my next release, and first applied the above-mentioned writing philosophy to it.
Dollops of musical exuberance were liberally applied on top of the beat, the structure was pulled taut, the vocals cut-up and rearranged to outright state the intention of the EP itself. First time I played the final version, at my place, at full blast, for a few friends of mine with exceptional palettes, one of them laid his head slack on my shoulder and expelled all the air from his lungs when the beat dropped. I giggled.
Just so much wordplay in this one… See, a “key party” is a somewhat-romantic, nowadays-sadly-completely-defunct model for an orgy. It could also mean a vital, crucial party, or a party for the key generation - the “key generation” touted in the opening and closing samples, which in itself is wordplay on “keygen”. And that’s how I arrived at sampling an absolute shitload of keygen music greats and coaxing them into a single, congruous anthem. As for the beat, that’s just aggro post-ballroom, with a copious serving of Art of Noise references and a cameo from my spirit animal, always and forever, Alyssa Edwards.
Self-explanatory, really. Quite proud of how I managed to represent both the tropical and the topical in the title wordplay. The track started off as an official remix for Foals, that they ultimately declined on, and I just kept the beat and upped the brutality quotient.
Unlike all the other tracks, which were titled with laborious wordplay just out of personal habit, and after the fact – this one started off as just a title. I wanted to make a ha track that wasn’t a ha track, that acted as a deconstruction of the ha track, and as a bit of an eulogy for it (given that, as I predicted at the time, and as I’m writing this, the ha crash has become as obnoxious as the bedsqueak, or samples of Hardrive’s “Deep Inside”, through sheer over-use by swarms of hacky producers).
So all I do with the ha is pitch it and play the marche funèbre with it, and then pitch it all the way up and just do percussive rolls with it, on top of a completely novel drum track (which serves as the “ha” bit). The Korg M1 oriental passages (which serve as the “harem” part), and generally the melodic elements are the most rewarding and heartfelt moments on this release, and their dream-like quality serves as the “REM” part.
I felt that the second section of “Ha-REM” was too short, for how effective it was. Then again, I also felt that the track was perfect structurally, and extending that section would amount to bloatware. The solution? Taking just that bit and running with it as a sparse, self-sufficient, lean and mean drum workout.
"Key Party" (Foba Remix)
Over to Foba: “I chose this track for his vocal and for the ballroom snare too. I wanted to create something really different from the original with a slower BPM and a more house-y pace, while remaining very club. I think it sounds a bit like Mak & Pasteman.”
"Key Party" (Spurz ‘Key Bump’ Edit)
Over to Spurz: “After Liar sent me the EP in its nearly completed form, I was immediately drawn to “Key Party” for an edit. I loved the heavy elements, the warped percussion melded with vocals and the overall driving force of the track. I knew I wanted to keep most of the existing drum/percussion elements, as well as the existing high fluttering synth line that appears later in the original track."
"I stripped away all the vocal and guitar elements, substituting a metallic/angular/percussive synth in their place, which works in contrast against the melodic synth, which I chopped/stuttered and repurposed as a proper breakdown, an aural equivalent of pulling your face up from a mirror, if you will."
"Very few of the original elements remain completely untouched. My goal was to turn what was already a club-conscious track into a dancefloor weapon. A slightly different way to use your key at a key party.”
"The Ballad of Scorpio"
After writing everything else on this EP I was a bit burnt out on club, but still grabbed by the overall concept and feel that had coalesced from the tracklist. After all was said and done, with all the forward-thinking having been thought, this still felt more like a throwback EP than anything I’d ever written, the most faithful to my internal retrofuture yet. Humid neon. Leather-clad sex and violence. Kenneth Anger. My ascendant sign. And so I titled the EP Scorpio, and after so many “trax”, wrote a “song” to tie them all together.
- Infinite Machine
- August 18, 2014