Boomkat Product Review:
Skam return with an ear-crushing set from SDEM of hand-crafted topographies that drill down somewhere between latter-day Autechre, Renick Bell, Shapednoise and Ekoplekz.
A quick peek at SDEM's Bandcamp page rolls out a slew of releases for his own Meds label, CPU, Superpang and Opal Tapes, all of which lay down his idiosyncratic jerky sonics - a finely-tweaked fusion of electro, musique concréte and experimental improv. 'Vortices' is the first SDEM record to appear on Skam, but it's not Tom Knapp's first brush with the label; he was one half of Mortal & Chemist (alongside Team Doyobi's Alex Peverett), who put out the gurgling, hip-hop inspired 'Supermechamaximegamegablast' CDR on the imprint way back in 2004. Since then, Knapp has refined his studio technique, using 'Vortices' to scratch at the edges of beat-centric computer music. According to the accompanying press release, Knapp is just as motivated by free improv as he is Northern bleep, and that translates immediately as frozen, vocaloid drones (opening track 'Geiwis') fade into gut-churning, ping-pong percussion and garbled soundscapes.
'NSEM Rev' is even knottier, an on-the-fritz drum machine that grates against gravelly synths and nauseous cinematics, and 'Quadro Diagrammatics' bends lurching subs into the mix, keeping the rhythm as predictable as Gescom's legendary Minidisc set to random. Knapp creates a space where electro and hip-hop are just concréte pieces to be chopped and hacked and layered in the same way as environmental recordings or close-miked voices. Using his well-honed studio as an instrument, he drives his sounds through mixing board hum and grotesque distortion, hitting on similar ground as Ekoplekz on 'SKEF' and playing a tight dancehall bump of tape hiss and demented string plucks. If you're looking for something more hypnotic, then the generous 'RZ' should fit the bill, with its ratcheting, kick-laced, tempo-fluxed fizz and warbling, pitch-black drones. We're sold..