“Apologies to the two YouTube accounts that have been forgotten and can’t be credited, you deserve more.”
Ken Oath’s third cassette release sees them move away from the terpsichorean trappings of the 12” format once again for a set of mind-warping statements by Roy Batty Jr. While the tracks certainly fit in with the long lineage of sci-fi obsessives that have made everything from futurist noise to techstep, this replicant seems less interested with harvesting dance music’s fallow past, instead sketching a vision for the bizarre mutations that will inhabit its future.
“Week After Next” is a grimy glimpse into a vast network of underground sewers, all synth gurgles, reverberating drainpipe clanks, and a looming sense of dread that cloaks everything
The sense of disquiet ramps up as “Elas” launches into a martial double-time stomp that flips around into a barrage of chopped, nay, dismembered drum hits that seems to revel in a confrontational unpredictability. You could try dancing to this, but the effort would probably resemble the Sisyphean flailing of car-lot Tube Men.
“113” opens with a stark, raspy throb of menacing sub, eventually dropping into some more rigid, techsteppy rhythms overlaid with shimmering strings and aquatic gurgles. It conjures up the straightforward interstellar imagery that makes it a perfect foil for the insidious bad trip of “2x4 Treatment”. Imagine downtempo robbed of any tempering “chillness”, or a particularly burnt Company Flow instrumental, a cruel joke for the beleaguered raver hoping to catch a breath and instead confronted with the ominous claustrophobia that lingers over the bizarre b-boy rhythms.
Flipping the tape over, “Idle Lust” is remarkably hollow, leaving long passages of circuit-bent noise and synth freakouts that make startling use of dynamics. It’s an ominous preparatory statement before the cassette’s centrepiece.
“Slippery Cheeks” is Roy’s magnum opus, a vision of dystopia that unfolds over a disorienting 12 minutes. The track starts off downtempo, a miasma of throbbing bass, hallucinatory blips and gurgles set over chopped-up drums. Eventually, the gurgling bass synth fades out, giving way to spacey arps, heavenly choral vocals and lilting woodwind melodies. A brief moment of beauty, which is then cleaved in two by a skull-burrowing acid line, promptly reinforced by a battery of cut up drums, like when the empathogenic aura of a cap wears off and all that remains is the nail-biting amphetamine RUSH. There’s no let up from there as the 303 line contorts itself across the fierce syncopated breakbeats until the rendered remains of your brains begin to drip out of your ears.
By turns, “SOT” seems positively restrained, treading the musique concrete-drum’n’bass connexion that Mark’s incendiary Unterton platter from early this year nailed. Feld recordings and foley all get mashed up and deformed, completely abstracted from any kind of organic source, in a plasticine complement to the deftly sliced drums.
Roy closes out with a missive to Jodie Foster: “Ode to Jode” has a real levity to it, mincing breaks and the innuendo-laden vocal in a manic manner, stretching the elasticity of each element to a snapping point. A fitting end for an album that balances boisterous joy and ineffable headfuckery in equal parts