Bookworms – Standards of Beauty

After debuting in the LP format earlier this year, Bookworms returns to the EP format for Anòmia with Standards of Beauty, an EP that continues to showcase the American producer’s inherent prowess on the dance floor, while exploring the farthest reaches of the dance music universe. Bookworms’ strong relationship with Ron Morelli and L.I.E.S is no coincidence with the producer’s own penchant for that New York rawness coming through everything he touches, although somewhat more subtly than his peers. Unlike his L.I.E.S counterparts, he continues to demonstrate an uncanny ability to channel the gritty aesthetics of New York dance music into amore lustrous sonic landscapes that infects this functional music with a unique visceral element. It’s something that never quite effectively translated to the album format on Xenophobe from earlier this year, where the highlights included U More and STE-027, the only two tracks that really denoted anything of an album feel amongst the very dance-floor orientated rest of the album. Which was odd since in the EP format Bookworms always appeared far more concise for its short-playing nature, which Standards of Beauty proves yet again.

From Divulge to 500 wounds there’s a sense of completion there, a familiarity between the different tracks, that don’t necessarily suggest a common theme between them, like in the case of an album, but more accurately a moment in time, a frame of mind and continuity. Divulge’s beat-less introduction acts as a catalyst from where the rest of the EP comes to life, the first accents of a reserved 4/4 kick drum only making an appearance 2 minutes into the second track Patterned where it’s subverted by the bio-mechanical atmosphere that Bookworms creates above it. There’s a progressive nature to the entire EP from there, where tracks continually build to some unattainable model. There’s a severe focus on sound architecture here too, more than what we’ve witnessed in the past from the artist, as the functional kick drum almost disappears amongst the layers Bookworms piles on top of it. There is no resolution to their being as they swathe the functional foundation of the tracks, trapped in a purgatorial vacuum where they’re progression is marred by the repetitive nature of the music. Bookworms creates these wave-like textures with elements pulling in and out of focus through their cycles, their static repetitive nature taking on a more organic form through it’s human creator’s whim I feel.

It keeps the listener engaged even through their methodically rhythmic and repetitive surface, which adds a cerebral dimension to this corporeal music. It’s particularly affective on the title track and its interlacing rhythmical elements with the grunge-like bass finding a new beat each bar around, in the way of Steve Reich’s clapping music, which along with the other melodic- percussive pieces creates a whirlpool effect that sucks you in deeper before spitting you out again at the top and sucking you in again, in the way of an eternal loop. It’s probably the grittiest track on the album too with fewer legato moments to smooth things over, and markedly feels like it could have fit in somewhere in Stroboscopic Artefacts discography. More appropriately it feels right at home amongst the other tracks on the EP, and true to Bookworms’ form creates a unique capsule of music that continues to explore the various dimensions of electronic music, with the artist’s idiosyncrasies subtly orchestrating them as ghostly reflections of a comprehensive artistic voice.