Displacer :: Curse of the Black Vinyl (Hymen / Crime League)

The sounds on offer here are rooted in dark drum ‘n’ bass and breakbeat but defy strict categorization as they push into uncharted territory of mutant hybrids.

Displacer :: Curse of the Black Vinyl (Hymen / Crime League)

Michael Morton. Known aliases: Displacer. Musician, prolific remixer, owner of the Crime League record label. Friend to Igloo, provider of this hour-long journey. Something like 7 full-length and a half-dozen EP credits to his name over the last decade, one of which, The Curse of the Black Lotus, dropped in 2013 and got a glowing Pietro write-up right here. This latest release, a cross-oceanic collaboration between Crime League and Hymen records, picks up where that one left off, alternating remixes of the Black Lotus material with new Displacer originals, and one Displacer remix of a Displacer original, for good measure. The sounds on offer here are rooted in drum ‘n’ bass and breakbeat but defy strict categorization as they push into uncharted territory of mutant hybrids.

Following a track order inspired by side-by-side listenings of Black Lotus with Black Vinyl, let’s start with the title track, whose original rendition alternated a stomping two-step with atmospheric passages and a koto-driven melody. DJ Swamp’s remix updates this for 2016 by dropping directly into trap bass, hi-hat rolls and a screwed-down vocal sample. The back half of the track brings back the original beat, overlaid with space-echo scratches. Jonah K’s remix preserves more of the melodic content but quickly builds into a high-bpm drum ‘n’ bass stomper; fans of D’n’B acts like Black Sun Empire will find their itches well-scratched by this one.

“Rzla (Burned Mix)” was track two on Black Lotus, but its remix by French artist hologram_ leads this new record. They’ve taken the original’s fuzzed synth lead and translated it to a chord progression on acoustic piano, which lead a gradual, symphonic build over the next four minutes, the climax of which is a microscopic burst of noise, denying gratification but opening the door for the rest of the release.

Jack Dangers’ “Rzla (mmxmetamix rmx)” takes a completely different tack. Dangers re-roots the track around fusion jazz organ washes and some funky cowbell hits, then strips the track back down into a dubbed-out breakbeat / synth workout. It’s a late night groove with oblique references to the source material, but it completely works and left me wanting it to roll for another five minutes.

New works comprise the rest of the release. “Freefall” has (as you might expect) a falling arpeggiated synth line as its opener that mutates and reappears through the track. It’s got a walking-tempo rolling breakbeat that’ll get heads nodding as static synth lines swirl around them. The humorously named “I’ll Be Bach (overdub mix)” features Morton’s Hymen labelmate and remix companion Keef Baker laying down a deep dub bassline and vocalist Teslee Snipes freestyling to match—”i’ll be back / i’m a composer / t-2 terminator / testarossa”. “Unbreakable” rounds out the release with more dub-influenced sounds that build into another slow-burning jam, led by a delightfully nasty bassline and capped with a delicate plucked-string melody.

Altogether, this is a very satisfying release on its own, but I’d strongly recommend listening continuously with the original, much the way you’d take a “vertical” of good wine or cellared beer: the newer one brings fresh notes to the base flavour, and the older one’s age mellows and rounds its rough edges, improving by comparison to the new.

Curse of the Black Vinyl is available on 12″ black vinyl (of course!) and in multiple download formats, available on Hymen, Ant-Zen Mailorder, and Crime League.

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