Lee Gamble KOCH

[PAN; 2014]

Styles: scuzzy, fucked, house
Others: Actress, Hype Williams, Laurence Crane

“That’s why it’s all so scuzzy and fucked, because if the kickdrums are too clean then it’s aimed at a dancefloor. And a dancefloor is momentary, it’s latched onto fashion.”

That was an interesting way in which Lee Gamble explained the sound of his 2012 PAN releases, Dutch Tvashar Plumes and Diversions 1994-1996. While Gamble has grappled in recent years with the differences between equally fashionable influences — early dance music and academic computer music — he would assure us that the appearance of style consciousness is a coincidence. Gamble aspires to a categorical, eternal music.

Speaking more recently and much less specifically, Gamble told Resident Advisor that the title of new album KOCH (pronounced “cotch”) comes from “a text [he’s] writing.” We are distantly and academically excluded from Gamble’s productive environment, left only to speculate; is it an acronym for something? The name of a place? An allusion to the Koch brothers? Where one might expect a theme to be closed in upon like a point in space, a space is paved out for the mind to wander. The first liability Gamble is dealing with here is his own intellectual inaccessibility.

As is the case with what seems like all electronic music this year, comparisons to Ghettoville are inevitable (especially as Gamble cites Actress as an influence), which could be the second liability — still, the very minute differences are important. While the Actress tracks were, by most accounts, club tracks exposed to organic erosion and presented in sequence as an endurance test, KOCH is more bizarre and less aggressive. An anthology of Laurence Crane’s repetitive chamber music from earlier this year was accompanied by a write-up by contemporary composer Michael Pisaro, who described Crane’s aesthetic as that “of inserting a molecule of foreign substance into the flour, water, yeast and salt.” Muddled vocal clips and rhythmic shifts serve that purpose for Gamble, substituting a deliberate and minimalist sensibility for the brutality of conceptual musicians like Actress and Hype Williams.

As it turns out, we don’t need to understand what the title means to “get” KOCH, and, in fact, our not “getting” it might very well constitute its importance. It’s just as easy as it is futile for me to explain how KOCH sounds, given that the point is listening to it and exploring its decrepit virtual caverns and slopes from a non-objective viewpoint. For the first time, Gamble’s scuzzy, fucked house conveys both real and virtual space, and plays very seriously with the spatial quality of all things scuzzy and fucked. It would be nice to augment that description with whatever Gamble has tucked away in his mind or writes in his “texts,” but all of that is ultimately beside the point.

Links: Lee Gamble - PAN

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