A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Brighton’s Ital Tek gets back to basics with a stunning new LP on Planet Mu!
Warm/cold. Retro/futuristic. Dubstep. Minimal. Hip-hop. Ambient. Once upon a time, these were all separate offshoots of the same family tree. Producers like Ital Tek are scaling back the tree, looking for the common genome to create a pure, emotional, personal, and one-of-a-kind electronica.
Perhaps more so than any other genre, electronic music is particularly prone to being of, by, and about the moment – constantly hurtling into the future like Walter Benjamin’s Angel Of History, with 100 years of breakbeats and broken circuitry acting as a blastcap.
Until relatively recently, there simply was no room for looking in the rearview, as far as the dancefloor was concerned. The history of electronic music is a war of attrition, with illuminated dischoteque floors littered with bloody corpses. If you were old, you were out, end of story.
This leaves producers in the weird grey zone of having to pander to populist tastes, while still trying to hone their craft and express something personal and individualistic. This can be like an ever-crowded Sudoku puzzle, leaving producers and DJs boxed in, with no way out and nowhere to turn.
These pressures can be confusing and daunting at the best of times. What are you to do as a new producer, getting in on the scene with 100 years of EDM history both inspiring and defying you.
This is the scene Ital Tek was born to, as a 19-year old, signing to Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu records. Brighton’s Alan Myson has been exploring the myriad veins of 21st Century underground electronica over the span of 5 LPs and 12 EPs, operating in the hinterlands of chillwave/glo-fi, dubstep/bass music, experimental/instrumental hip-hop, and live analog Techno.
For Hollowed, Ital Tek’s most ambitious and sprawling effort yet for Planet Mu, Myson decided to ignore all the pressures, all the contradictions and prevailing trends, and get back to the basics of making tracks. Myson returned to the garage roots of his youth, quite literally, trying to re-capture the magic of making tracks on junky old equipment as a teenager in his parent’s garage.
The end result is a compelling, beguiling trawl through genres and moods, as Ital Tek connects previously unrelated movements into something entirely new, yet still sounding familiar and relevant.
Hollowed gently undulates in with “A Delicate Balance”, like exploring a bioluminscent kelp forest, until a gezpacho hip-hop beat interrupts the serenity, or else underpins it. This mixture of amorphous ambiance and laidback acceleration is a commonality, throughout Hollowed, making it suitable for any number of listening scenarios.
“Redeemer” emanates from the crystalline caverns of the Vaporwave, with ghostly, ghastly voices detuned into alien resonance, exploring similar territory to mutant grime producers, like the 4th world exoticism of Fatima Al Qadiri.
Likewise, there’s the coldwave opening of “Beyond Sight”, which morphs into something nearly hauntological, with sci-fi synth arpeggios and a wispy digital voice, like Chocky singing you to sleep, which sounds straight out of a Focus Group or John Foxx album. Any accusation of retro-worship is quickly pumped full of holes, however, when a growling analog bassline and repetitive machine beat grind their way on to sign, wearing down any resistance like a belt sander.
Going to break the fourth wall of journalism/criticism for a moment. As an electronic producer myself, trying to learn the trade in the 2000s when i finally got my hands on some equipment was a painful, eye-opening experience. The tyrannical march of progress had not yet ceased, and you were expected to work within the dominant paradigm, which seemed to change every couple of months or so. Genres that didn’t make the cut were left for dead, met with scorn.
This made it difficult to try and learn the tools and techniques, to master the forms and structures of each disparate genre. “You should just make what you want,” they said. What are you supposed to do when you want to make it all, and don’t know how to make any of it?
This led to a decade of bashing my head against the wall and feeling pretty bitter, until i got to Portland and ceased giving a shit what other people thought, deciding to focus instead on the cross-section of culture i, and the people closest to me, were into, which was the origin of Forestpunk.
There is a thrill that comes from hearing yr early experimentation, free from harsh criticism or expectations. Turns out a lot of those home demos, field recordings, and samples sound pretty good, and i have a much better idea of what to do with them, how to string them together into something distinctive.
I’d like to posit that Ital Tek, with Hollowed is speaking directly to the zeitgeist. This is a sentiment i see over and over, across every medium: getting back to the basics, and expressing yourself to the best of your ability.
This is the next step, beyond the monoculture. But it requires self-knowledge, self-assessment, and, of course, a bunch of backbone.
As usual, Planet Mu is doing their part to advance this agenda, by totally ignoring trends and expectations, which is part of what helped them push Footwork forward, in the 2000s.
If you’ve liked pretty much any flavor of electronic music of the past decade, you’re bound to find something to get into on Hollowed. Fans of glowing chillwave, like Clams Casino, and ambient, emotional techno especially.
As one final thought, I’ve been getting into DJing/mixing lately, as I’m going to be getting a radio show soon (more on that to come), so I’ve been pulling together harmonic and BPM information for DJ sets. Ran this one through Audiokeychain, and came up with the following table, to help you drop these tracks in yr own mixes (you should, you really should).
Haven’t had a chance to check the root keys or BPM yet, so if you end up experimenting, you should come back and let us know how accurate it is!
Hollowed is out now on Planet Mu!
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|Ital Tek – Hollowed||Audio Keychain info|
|A Delicate Balance||9A / Em||98.5|
|Redeemer||12A / Dbm||143.5|
|Beyond Sight||8A / Am||92|
|Cobra||12B / E||97|
|Terminus||6B / Bb||142.3|
|Nex||4A / Fm||172.5|
|Memory Shard||9B / G||91.65|
|Aquamarine||5A / Cm||163|
|Murmur||2A / Ebm||120.5|
|Reflection Through Destruction||3A / Bbm||158|
|Vesper||2A / Ebm||99.5|
|Jenova||11A / Gbm||131.7|
|Vacuum I||4A / Fm||170|