Artwork © by Jonathan Castro
Genres are dead. At this blog, established to introduce underrepresented genres, we have witnessed their painful final moments of existence, heavily gasping for air while being ripped apart in the accelerating shredder of the internet. The scraps spit out on the backside that have dominated the state of the art of the music scene over the last year has come to be termed ‘deconstructed club music’, for lack of a better description. It’s deadly taboo now, eachoing the blog scene’s mantra from the early 2010’s, to ask what is going to be the ‘next big thing’. But after some years of allergy to hypes, it’s time to ask in a more careful way, what could be next. A year in existence now, the Rotterdam based collective Bound Centre tries to pave a way.
‘Calamity One’ is the first release by the label and the first joint music project by founding members Ice Viper, Victor Metske, Imhotel, Holowave and Generation Bass’ own S x m b r a. Coming from different social circles, most of them met each other only about a year and a half ago, realising that they shared not only an unorthodox music taste but also a vision for revitalising Rotterdam’s music and club culture. Where Amsterdam has had plenty of early impulses such as Progress Bar, that has given the ‘deconstructed club’ movement a solid stronghold, Rotterdam used to have nothing of its kind so far. At the same time, the city was becoming an ever more vibrant place with plenty of opportunities for innovative underground culture. With the dominance of ‘deconstructed club’ in the experimental music scene and its ever growing influence on contemporary music culture, Bound Centre was, pun half-intended, bound to happen.
They describe their mission as “Permanent Reconstruction”: “permanently reconstructing electronic music after the irreversible disappearance of boundaries between genres.” The slogan suggests a double meaning, being a word-play on the term ‘deconstructed club’ as well as a reference to Rotterdam’s history and the city’s pragmatic and open attitude. Both represent positive, constructive punk attitude of building from scratch, a hacker kind of imaginative freedom in dealing with cultural elements, and a political vision that is focused on doing rather than talking and pretending.
Jonathan Castro‘s suggestive minimalism sharply expresses these ideals in a visually poetic form. The Metahaven affiliated Peruvian designer, based in Amsterdam, is a rising name in the contemporary design world who has made name with his recognisable, vivid use of fonts, colours and shapes. His hightly consistent visual aesthetic for Bound Centre, in the club night poster art as well as the cover design for Calamity One, makes use of self-referential recycling of visual elements: the half-arch, the fallen rose, the tailed stars and the otherworldly logo that holds the middle between sportswear dynamism and a creature from the cambrian explosion. Powerful colour use creates an experience of immersive curiosity, on the uneasy borderline between the hyper-familiar and the hyper-unknown, placing recognisable elements in a completely new context every time.
This continuous recontextualisation, transforming the familiar into something coherently new, is what ‘Calamity One’ demonstrates musically in five examples that are refreshingly unlike each other. The personal style and emotional spectrum of each producer indivudually is very pronounced. From Ice-Viper’s foamy shower experience, created by crackling ASMR-like sound textures and crystalline, hypnotising synths, to Victor Metske’s transformation of baile funk tropes into a moody, restless, almost panicking club experience. Imhotel most sharply diverges from conventions of the deconstructed club movement, yet with a similar if not more forward looking approach. His bloodpressure lowering, meditative ambient track with footwork elements suggests a cinematic moment of miraculous calmness in a situation of overwhelming anguish and terror. Holowave in turn paints an immersive, almost documentary-like atmosphere of present-day dystopian realities, evoking images of searchlight helicopters and military drone footage with gloomy, electrifying synthwork and hard hitting metallic percussion. S x m b r a closes the compilation with emotional introspective narrative, contrasting warm heavenly marimba and cumbia elements with shiveringly cold glassy sounds and explosive tension change.
At the same time, the tracks are very much on the same page. They use genre elements not for the sake of deconstructing or to combine genres per se, but as tools to convey very specific emotions and experiences. In that respect the tracks on ‘Calamity One’ are no longer composites or abstractions of genres or ‘ambient + club’ as if that were an inherent contradiction. They are artistic expressions of complex experiences that can be undergone while dancing in a club. And as the collective is currently preparing a new series of club nights in Roodkapje in Rotterdam for the fall season, there will be plenty of opportunity for that soon again.
- Ice Viper – Perfect Swimmer
- Victor Metske – 4 More Years
- Imhotel – Delphic Expanse
- Holowave – Borders
- S x m b r a – Glass Wall
Left to right: Imhotel, Ice Viper, Victor Metske, S x m b r a & Holowave – © Luc Schol
“Permanent Reconstruction”: a small number of t-shirts was created for the release (SOLD OUT) – © Jonathan Castro
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