Photo by Ilme Vysniauskaite
Things have changed somewhat since SM-LL graduated from digital to vinyl and lathe formats. Their early releases, the ‘Default’ series, were mainly reserved for the assorted projects of label owners Martin J Thompson and Lucia H Chung. These days however, there are new faces at every turn. Danish duo R.E.C, Belgian artist Yves De Mey and Japanese producer Durusin have all made appearances on the label. The latest release comes in the form of a new project from Kaj Duncan David, AND REA.
As well as being a new project, David’s AND REA 12” for SM-LL also makes up his first physical release, previous endeavours restricted to live performances and installations for galleries, lecture halls and festivals.
The first of SM-LL’s ‘Batch’ series was comprised of a single track, cut at full and half speed on either side of the record. Furthermore, listeners were encouraged to play the lathe at both 45rpm and 33rpm, highlighting the versatility that can be found in a single piece.
David’s contribution to the series, takes this idea to greater extremes. Haywire step sequencers and discordant staccato tones are played at both varying speeds and in varying formulations. Across opener ‘q+b’ for example, computerised bleeps are cautiously set in motion, like 2001’s HAL in reboot mode. It’s successor, ‘QB’, on the other hand presents the same repetitions in an altogether more frenetic manner. Pointed blasts of low end interject mid-loop, while bug-eyed bleeps and squelches fight for space at grating pitches.
As you might expect, ‘s+g’ and ‘SG’ are similarly linked. In this instance it is ‘s+g’ which comprises the more energy charged of the two, hyper speed arpeggios and paranoid glitches calling to mind Vladislav Delay and Max Loderbauer’s assorted footwork experiments as Heisenberg. ‘SG’ takes a more muted approach, plodding forward with dullen square waves and ticking hi-end.
SM-LL seem to be finding new nuances to explore at every turn, while still maintaining a set of core values. Minimalism, a focus on tonality and experiments in subtly shifting polyrhythms are strongly audible here for example, yet David also manages to create a release which cuts against the grain with its frantic tempos and tightly regimented step sequencers.