Boomkat Product Review:
Novo Line returns with a new disc of Algorithmic Body Music® for Ecstatic engineered to be played at both 33 and 45. It’s a stubbornly innovative twist on late ‘80s and early ‘90s dance music; If yr into anything from Aphex Twin to DAF, Front 242 to Powell - or generally like your club music analogue, fffuckkked yet still forward thinking, this one’s for you.
Novo Line reprises the meter-messing genius of his Movements album with Dyad - exclusively using the tools of ’88/’89 professional recording set-ups - namely the Atari ST, but with a slight algorithmic alteration. While it’s increasingly hard to find new tricks in old gear, especially with the resurgence of hardware fetishism and the ubiquity of DAWs, that’s exactly what Nat Fowler has been doing for the best part of a decade as Novo Line. By, in his own words, “misusing one algorithmic composition program (not, by a longshot, a professional music production tool of any epoch) contained in 208kb of data on a 3.5” floppy disk”, He generates and explores new permutations of old music which, ironically enough, sound fresher or at least more innovative than a lot of new music in circulation right now.
The release poses a playful question: can a record be ambivalent as to which speed it should be played? Celebrating vinyl and futhermore physical media, the listener is encouraged to find their exact speed of preference with the RPM toggle and pitch slider, that nearly forgotten joy in modifying speed in real time without a CPU mediating between the listener and sound; some tracks stumble heavily at 33rpm like boulders in the tumble dry, while others flash by at 45.
In the taut, recoiling thud of Monad, thru the frenetic pop edit of Ennead to the ‘floor-curdling prong of Dyad Marcia on the front, to the forceful New Beat mutation Tetrad, and the mind bending Melpomenean Dyad which closes the LP, its some heavily challenging but deeply satisfying gear that seriously yet playfully messes with convention.
Essentially Novo Line is revelling in the pure spirit of computer music and the sonification of dance music as we know it - born in the ’88/’89 phenomenon of techno-house music, including its Industrial/EBM precedents, and its New Beat/Euro House offshoots. And like John McCusker’s delectable artwork of a beige room and monitors interwoven with tubular, computer generated follies, Novo Line provides a captivating perspective that shortcircuits nostalgia’s illness to result in a killer vaccine against/for convention.