On Record: Minotaur Shock: Qi (Bytes)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

David Edwards returns under his Minotaur Shock pseudonym with Qi, a six-part suite recorded on an Electron Digitone synthesizer. The idea of recording an extended set of pieces on a single piece of equipment seems to be catching on during lockdown, providing inspiration for a number of bedroom-based musicians, yours truly included!

What’s the music like?

Enjoyably instinctive. Edwards was very reluctant to go back to the tracks once recorded, delivering each in one or at most two takes. It means that the music-making is very much ‘in the moment’, and ensures the cells of melody that Minotaur Shock works with are kept fresh in their development.

As Qi unfolds it becomes clear that Edwards actually has an embarrassment of ideas, many of them flavoured with late 1980s and early 1990s techno and all of them linking together beautifully. The mood is friendly but on occasion heavier grooves punch in, so that tracks like Qat and QCD impress with their inventive breakbeats. The latter floats in on the wind like a set of chimes before some nice crossrhythms set up an unexpected but rather stately chorale.

Qui, the first track, shows how substantial these structures can become, leading to a swirling snowstorm of a loop where the keyboard carries all before it. Qis, the glittering closing section, and Qua are largely without percussion, but still have a natural rhythmic momentum.

Does it all work?

Yes. Edwards keeps things moving, nothing outstays its welcome, and the rich well of melodic inspiration continually pushes out new ideas.

Is it recommended?

Heartily. Minotaur Shock is very much on form here, with a warm-hearted half hour of electronic invention to enjoy.

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Switched On – GLOK: Dissident Remixed (Bytes)

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

This time last year Ride fans – and electronic music devotees – were both surprised and delighted at the appearance of GLOK, the self-titled instrumental album from the band’s guitarist Andy Bell. Bell had kept his electronic alias relatively under wraps until then, but he revealed himself as an accomplished producer harnessing the influence of Krautrock into some strong, beat-laden grooves.

With a talent for expanding his music to fill bigger structures, Bell also recognised the flexibility of his recordings for the remix treatment – which is what we have here. His enviable contact book has resulted in remixes from a number of sources including James Chapman (Maps), Richard Sen and the late Andrew Weatherall with one of his last studio contributions.

What’s the music like?

Remix albums can be substandard affairs and stopgaps when an artist’s inspiration is running dry, but there is no danger of any of that happening here.

Franz Kirmann impresses greatly with his two versions of Kolokol. The first has added squiggles and a dogged beat that presses all the right buttons, while the second has murkier textures and a stripped back, dubby beat. Timothy Clerkin delivers a remix of Projected Sounds with head nodding goodness, while Andrew Weatherall‘s mix of Cloud Cover is underpinned by characteristically dark bass line and fluttering atmospherics.

On the downtempo side of things there is a nice, woozy take on Weaver from C.A.R., and a lovely hazy dub version of Exit Through The Skylight from Jay Glass, with rich instrumental colours. Bell himself turns in a brilliant extended version of Pulsing. Stretched out to 15 minutes, the track turns subtly from a laid back, dub-inflected tread to a dreamy breakdown in the middle, before extra bleeps and bass are introduced.

One of the most striking inventions comes from Minotaur Shock, bringing analogue beats and warm synth colours to Weaver, twisting and turning the source material. It is immediately complemented by another excellent remix of Pulsing, this time from MapsJames Chapman reaching for the stars with a typically wide panorama.

Does it all work?

Yes. It works as a remix album should, building on the original and bringing out different elements of Bell’s music. The variety of talent on show is laid out in an appealing structure, using his acumen to craft another album that has an ideal ebb and flow.

Is it recommended?

Very much so. GLOK Remixed emerges as a companion to put alongside the original, showing off the flexibility of its source material and making some really excellent, alternative grooves from it. With Bell’s debut solo album as a vocalist coming up soon, there is much to enjoy from him this year!

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