Label: An Epic
Release Date: 14/10/2014
Pokk! is the moniker of futurist-dub artist Martin J Thompson, perhaps best known as the head of the visionary minimal label SM-LL. Almost every release on either SM-LL or from Thompson himself feels like a glass of cold water in a world of fizzy drinks and E-numbers. While the best part of electronic music today is fixated on flooding the mix with hyperactive layers of saturated distortion and effects, Thompson keeps things crystal clear, using just a handful of disparate elements to devastating effect. This EP is no different, taking the listener on a tour around the pathways of London: a kind of resurrection from the lifeless desolation of Abney Park cemetery to the dizzying hubbub of Central Wardour Street.
What is perhaps most striking about Thompson’s output is his use of tempo. Thompson has a wont for tempos that are really low – tripping the listener up with their striking scarcity. ‘Abney Park’ sets things off like a computer game menu screen – a kind of calm purgatory patiently waiting for you to make your move, reminiscent of Actress’ ‘Harrier Attk’. Eventually, the seductive and heady dub-delay a la ‘Scratch’ Perry envelopes the entire stereo field – bringing a familiar technique to an unfamiliar context.
You can tell Thompson has a penchant for hardware, as the synths on this EP are exceptionally thick, and each sound feels maximized to the fullest extent. The off-key stabs on ‘Hanway Place’ for example, relentlessly fill every iota of space in the mix, as endless tunnels of echo bustle beneath them. ‘Crouch End’, too, plays on these shimmering in-between-y harmonies, with every component sounding slightly out of tune with the others – a distinctive and alluring feature of the analogue synthesizer. ‘Pathways’ makes a fitting third chapter in the label’s discography, and Thompson’s ultra-reduced, sleek take on dub-techno is an incredibly strong move for an imprint that emerged a mere two months ago.