Sunday, October 13, 2013

P054: Cabeza de Vaca – Redshape

We continue the colour trip this week on Cabeza de Vaca and Scanner FM. The main focus is on the new harder techno direction of Sebastian Kramer’s Redshape project, but there is also Vester Koza’s “Out of the Blue” on the EP of the same name. This is his second release and second of the year and his first also on his own Maslo imprint.

Stunning stuff on both accounts and a really hard to differentiate balance between techno and deep house. Will be looking forward to more from him for sure.

With regards to Redshape, you can track out a couple of periods to his career so far. Most obviously is the pre-Redshape period where he was simply known as Sebastian Kramer. This is from 2004 and therefore is not his last release before he changed his name and sunk temporarily into anonymity behind the red mask, but perhaps this one of all his early period tracks gives a premonition of what is to come:

Harder techno with more traditional lines and textures, it nonetheless hides one of those rollicking and motoric bass drives that forms part of Redshape’s sound. On his first release way back in 2000 on Content, you can still hear the carryover from the more clunky, almost awkward sounds of 90s techno.

Redshape effectively started in 2006 with the release of the “Playground” EP on his then new label Present which continues to this day.

The change from the former releases is impressive. You can hear directly the shift towards more naked synth sounds, the slowing of the BPM a little, the opening up of the mix to let in air. The result is clearly a unique and signature sound. While you would never call his earlier tracks bad, their aim and production kind of directs them directly towards the unbuiquitous and ever changing backdrop of electronic music: DJ tools, effective pieces, stones in the mosaic, but nothing more. Redshape was born a provocateur and innovator.

One of the things that captured me to Redshape's sound in this period was his evocation of science fiction, but the kind of psychedelic 70s kind with clumsy robots, clunky spacecraft and machiens and sparse weirded-out planets painted in primary colours. Somewhere between Barbarella and Flash Gordon.

Sci-fi now is too indebted to ridiculous quasi science and impressing with the image of and the images from computers. Everything is sterilized and straight line with no husk to grasp hold of. The earliest Redshape period worked this sound to a natural climax which was the “Dance Paradox” a proud and original debut that will certainly stand tall still in many years. The key here was also the addition of a live drummer who was also used live as well during the first tours after the album release.

The space and future themes continued after the release of the “Dance paradox”, with EPs like “Future shock” and “In trust we space”, most on Delsin or Present. But it took him nearly three years to get around to recording his second album, the more house orientated “Squares” that was released on Running Back. Something of a strange pairing that didn't quite come off perhaps, or maybe that it was just a hard act to follow? “Squares” in any case sometimes seemed to suffer as it felt less serious than its counterpart in combination with the change in style.

Curiously though, it was also divided into the four cardinal directions, with each of the vinyl sides allocated a direction. “Square” also featured a new version of the first Redshape track too as its closing piece.

Since “Square” however, Redshape has entered into a new phase, taking on board perhaps the harder sounds dominating current techno. Most of the material on the excellent new “Red Pack II” release on Delsin are sublime. To mix it up a bit I picked one of the dubbier tracks, but the rest are a return to force as much as form, with the trademark synths still an essential element. The Bleep track “Focus”, shared on an EP with Steffi is even more of a banger and heralds well for the new era.

The closing track on the show this week by SHXCXCHCXSH also has many banging qualities, but its unusual arrangement is what is the most attractive. The elements seem to work out of any structured time, but arrive when it suits themselves. The beat as well, seems to impede rather than flow at times, whereas the textures and elements of melody are defiant and introverted. The outcome is for me one of the best tracks of the year so far. It appears that others have been fascinated equally by the last track which we feature on the show and also this one which is clearly “Little wolf”.

Like Violetshaped last week, there is also some interesting mixes and sets out there for those who want to capture more of the complete picture.

Alone on Mars?
Vester Koza
Out of the blue
Ellen Allien
Need (Redshape remix)
Bpitch Control
Path (Dub)
Woo York
Planet Rhythm Records

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