A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Recent times have found a resurgence of interest in classic styles, as we attempt to make sense of the mess of information that swarms around us every second; as we seek to contend with inspiration and the limitations of no limits.
The time is right to receive Conversions, 11 reinterpretations of material that has been personally significant in the development of Ben Lukas Boysen, the man behind Hecq. The remixes, working with source material as far back as 1996 and as wide ranging as string quartets and neo-classical, to laser keen drum ‘n bass, investigates a few styles that have fallen out of mass fascination, mainly the music formerly known as dubstep, as well as muscular, precise glitch-hop, that have been much maligned but have a lot to offer.
We have always loved aggressive dance music, here at Forestpunk HQ. There is nothing finer than the endocrine system panic shutdown of cerebral activity, as the body responds to microtuned endorphin injections via drum n bass meltdown. The mind is literally BEAT into submission, as the body twitches, writhes and wails. It’s a similar high to the E-glide smooth sailing of a microhouse set, but more dystopian – a different kind of buzz. This is music for concrete warehouses and underground dance parties. For people who like to dance in black clothes.
Hecq is no hardcore thug, however, no brash and brutish d ‘n b drillhead. Yes, some of the material on Conversions is converted into finely wrought machinations of destruction, like on The Outside Agency‘s “Godspeed”, which removes the creeping insinuation of the original’s electric harpsichord Hammer ambiance, and comes right out with the broken beat aggression. Or the remix of TechDiff‘s “Thirteen Acres”, which takes the polished chrome of the original and submerges it underwater for 1000 years, until it’s rusted and corroded and covered in barnacles, but no less deadly efficient.
But there is no default mode on Conversions, which makes it so stand-out. Boysen does whatever is called for in each given situation, refining and bringing out nuances and aspects of the original. Take, for instance, the album opener, “Zum Greifen Nah” by The Bersarrin Quartet, which takes the shooting starfield ambiance of the original and somehow roots it to the Earth, with foreground cello drones that were not previously there. If The Bersarrin Quartett’s version could be seen as the soundtrack of take off, of rushing off to explore the stars, Hecq’s re-envisioning is the sound of looking at constellations from the desert, making up myths to describe the shapes. Or consider one of my personal highlights, a remix of Svarte Greiner‘s “Final Sleep”, the final track from Knive’s essential 2006 album Knive. Hecq’s dub actually manages to be even more haunting and unsettling than the original, stripping it of it’s rustling, knocking foreground recordings, and placing it in eternity. It makes Svarte Greiner sound like Arvo Part, as clouds of heavenly choirs make lament configurations over your kneeling body.
Sometimes, Hecq completely wipes any sense of forward drive or aggression from the originals, as on Lusine ICL‘s “Scheming”, which started out as a hyper-chill headnodding hip-hop beat, and ends up here as a close-up of a Miami sunset, or on. A similar effect is achieved on Anodyne‘s “When The Sky Fell Down,” perhaps the most extreme reworking on here. The original was a fairly common piece of minimalist tech house, which has been plunged into an inky black void of dark ambient eternity, here. It’s as monolithic, empty, and desolate as any Emptyset, Raime, or The Haxan Cloak, and should satisfy any fans who are hungry for new releases from those artists.
And, finally, sometimes Hecq just points out and embellishes upon aspects that were already their in the original, as in D-Saw’s “10:30”, which shows us today’s minimalist analog techno is yesterday’s hardware jam, and some of those obscure/unknown dance records were quite good.
My favorite thing about Conversions, apart from the interstellar beauty of the ambient tracks, is the reappraisal of dubstep, glitch-hop, and breakcore. All of these extreme styles of music had massive implications on what is possible with music, but those ideas got muddled and sullied from imitators and exploiters. Dubstep offers the sheer physicality and power of volume and bassweight. Drum ‘n bass and breakcore offer the most extreme form of quantization, with sound cut up into nanoseconds and wired together into impossibly complex rhythmic constellations. And glitch-hop gives it all a crawling, dragging, swagger, lowdown and keeping it from the streets, in the raves.
Hecq shows himself to be an endlessly inventive sound artificer, creating truly unique and individual mutant worlds of the original.
For those that admit that there’s things about Skrillex that they like. That listened to those first couple of Bassnectar and The Glitch Mob albums A LOT. You will fall in love. And for those that love electronic-inflected classical ambiance, you also will fall.
Similar to what i did with the Soft Pink Truth album a week or so ago, i’ve put together a playlist of the originals, so you can compare and contrast, and give yrself some ideas on how to go about making badass remixes of yr own.