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ESP INSTITUTE

Metal is a collaborative endeavor between Bristol and London artists Jamie Paton and Mike Bourne of Cage & Aviary and Teeth Of The Sea, respectively. A shared love for modular synthesis brought the two together in 2018 for a series of improvised live performances and the tracks featured on this EP were born from rehearsals for those sessions. What draws ESP to this music is its paradigmatic nature. The tracks are exercises in improvisation yet there is a level of control in which the performance slowly comes alive. Jam sessions allow for artistic gratification, a freedom of form often at the expense of the listener, but when artists set forth exacting parameters, there grows an opportunity for alternate forms of fulfillment on both sides of the experience. As is typical among stylistic prototypes, a reduction of tools frees the artist to narrow their focus and explore more singular modes of performance. Jamie and Mike chose texture as a concept, namely Metal, and following the aforementioned methods, minimized their instrumentation toward the aesthetic representation of that element. Operating in a void without the convenience and advantages of the infinite tools we’re now accustomed to, they exhausted a short list of granular details, honing their concept to a fine point. Throughout these three iterations on the theme, we hear timbres that depict metal literally, but moreover we gain a view into the duo’s visceral attachment to its materiality, abstractions of its surfaces, and an overall transgression from conventional constructs of beauty. The idea is simple, designed with discipline to romanticize both the crudeness and elegance in one of Earth’s most industrious and enigmatic elements. Metal.

Afrikan Sciences

Have It Tall B/w Daily Gates

Afrikan Sciences hold time in one hand and space in the other. This is his first offering for the ESP Institute. Side A’s 'Have It Tall' boasts the characteristics of an improvised jam session. Tipped-off in a theme of rapid-fire percussion and an innocent chord progression, each instrument ventures into its own loosely carved space, allowing squelching sporatic bursts of bassline, rhodes piano twinkles and a frenetic funky drummer pattern that haphazardly cuts in and out, to coexist without ever stepping on one another’s toes. The production is simultaneously aggressive and mesmerizing, bright cracking punctuations alternate with a fat rolling bottom end, all elements dry and present. On side B’s 'Daily Gates', things are a little slower to get rolling. Currents of swirling synth chords carry over from the previous side, but here we’re dragged across a long and thumping upright bass intro. The fabric of instrumentation casually weaves itself over a 5 minutes of liberally syncopated rimshots, hi-hats and snaps, before a guitar interjects with a triumphant and otherworldly melody, a brief shot of glowing optimism before returning us to a heavy cosmic slop. These two songs have built the end into the beginning.

STAFF COMMENTS

says: Decidedly future-focused and refined, modern dancefloor exotica here from technology purists Afrikan Sciences that'll appeal equally to fans of electro-acoustic luminaries Burnt Friedman & Jan Jelinek.

Benedikt Frey makes an anticipated return to the ESP Institute. After leisurely toying with themes around this fourth release with the label, which follows his 2017 debut album 'Artificial', a dense nihilistic fog seems to have enveloped his creative process and undoubtedly informed his frame of mind. The approach here is perhaps more minimal than the artist’s previous endeavors — reducing music to skeletal loops, allowing their character to develop and fluctuate over the course of each piece — a confidence that exemplifies an artist hitting their stride, but in no way does he rely on the trope of “less is more”. Whereas a minimalist embellishes the importance of elements through their isolation and negative space, Benedikt fills every facet with granular measures of sound and sifts them, in a cyclical motion, through his spectral arrangements. The title 'Cells' speaks to the unadulterated path from which Frey cultivates complex gestures utilizing limited means — stretching singular organisms to their furthest limits, breaching their brink of stability and inciting cancerous mutations — proving time and again his mastery of tonal nuance and fearless embrace of distortion. Each of these four songs deliver a despondent poetry, predominantly abstract, but occasionally complimented by verbal commands from dystopian futures, such as the blanketing repetitive chants in 'Interlinked' that conjure images of labor, assembly lines and infrastructural erosion, or the intercom punctuations throughout 'Substance B' that refer to the “world’s future” which, when juxtaposed over such dark melodies and gritty drums, allude to science fiction, Film Noir and a post-apocalyptic existence. As the winter approaches, the melancholy grows very real, and we swoon.

STAFF COMMENTS

says: Benedikt Frey has been smashing it of late, producing one of my favourite 12"s of the year in typically low key fashion. Here he brings his dark, EBM tinged synth slap to ESP across four detailed club tracks. On the A-side, 'Interlinked' is abrasive and break-led, while 'Pilot' is slow, low and subby, keeping the tension high throughout. Flip it for the steely motorik groove of 'Substance B' and my personal favourite the 85BPM grind of 'Pedal To The Metal'.

Greenvision is the collaborative brainchild of two ESP Institute artists, Juan Ramos and Luca Trentini AKA Trent, both longtime fixtures of Berlin’s infamous playground known as Cocktail d’Amore. Separately, these two explore their own very personal avenues of expression, putting their time in the trenches and endlessly polishing their works (this is Juan’s third release with the label), but when their efforts overlap we’re gifted a view into their uncanny synergy. Juan and Trent channel an exorbitant amount of smoke-fueled creativity, building layers upon layers into music so dense that the bulk of their studio time might then be spent navigating and formalizing their output into tangible tracks. Greenvison’s collective debut with the ESP Institute showcases three intense cerebral workouts, "Banana Paradiso", "Rambutan" and "The Color Of Maracuja", an array of experiments pulling from all the corners of the duo’s imagination - it is disorienting, cacophonous, introverted and psychedelic, but at the same time playful, melodic, euphoric and undoubtedly arresting - guaranteed to induce hallucinations under proper circumstances.


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