I first heard of Nina Kraviz in a magazine interview a number of years ago and was impressed with her story. Admittedly I was just getting into techno at that point, but her sound, outlook and background struck a chord with me. Since then, much fuss has been made rightly and wrongly about the lady and her music (it seems everything that surrounds it and some things that are nothing to do with it). Media hype occupies the same space in my life as negativity (i.e. ignored) and I’ve enjoyed her music in the past, so I was interested to hear the first output from her new label simply called Trip or stylised in Russian as “трип.”
The double EP includes tracks from Kraviz and a number of other artists. It’s a varied affair but with the common theme of exploring deep, hypnotic to trippy grooves in techno. All the tracks are good but there are some clear highlights inside the minimal, textured cover art.
B1, “IMPRV” by Nina Kraviz, contains the familiar liquid vocal sample with its breathy echo, but it’s the bouncing, demanding groove that grabs the attention here. The kicks are more forefront than many of her productions, and if you listen carefully you can hear a full and beautifully arranged melody way, way out in the background. Part way through, a skittering hihat introduces a pulsating, scribbling sample as the vocals drop an octave and the groove intensifies - this is aimed straight at the dancefloor and delivers on every level.
C2, “Bonus Beat” by Population One is a fantastic lesson in making icy and unnerving electronic music. Thin, echoing notes scale up and down over 8 bar periods in the background, sounding like the unfriendliest of solar winds and anchored only by the 808 kicks. The essential element of this track is the nagging, panning tom roll. This cycles around the inside of the head like a slow-mo wall of death and could easily consume hours of your day if you let it. The track is also punctuated with flat handclaps, giving a slightly tribal feel to the somewhat obscure arrangement.
Most intriguing perhaps is D2, “1.0 / 8.0 Afrika Genocide” by Parrish Smith. Taking a much more experimental direction than the others, its inclusion shows that Kraviz is willing to explore with this label. Frenzied percussive notes provide a loose base for a sound that I find hard to describe, maybe like vibrations in a very long cable rising and falling in the wind. A half hidden (male?) vocal repeats alongside this and adds to the sense of unreality. Under it all there is an element of constancy provided by a kick drum with nearly all the bass frequency removed. A lot to figure out in this track and for that reason I enjoyed this one the most.
For the other tracks on offer, Exos provides some clinical hypnotising techno in the form of “Nuclear Red Guard,” cranking up the BPMs and showing absolutely no mercy. Steve Stoll turns out some deep rolling bass and unsettling synth on “Pop Song” and Bjarki adds an element of the schizophrenic with a delightful tapping/whistling sample in “Polygon Pink Toast“.
Overall, this EP provides a great introduction to Trip’s direction. There is clearly a desire to provide a platform for more established artists as well as up and coming ones, there is a definite sound emerging from most of these tracks. It will be interesting indeed to see what happens with future releases - this is a very promising start.
The Deviant Octopus is out now on digital and double vinyl.
- Reviewed by Stuart Ingram for deathtechno.com