Bruce – HES027

bruce-artworkWhen I engaged in a Q&A with Hessle Audio for Trouw a couple of weeks back I was buzzing over the prospect of finally delving into what makes the label tick. What brings them together over a release and what was it particularly about Bruce’s first outing for the label that ticked all the boxes?

“The Bruce record is a good example of something which achieves (a) balance of experimentalism and functionality.” I immediately find the latter predominantly apparent on this latest 12” from Hessle Audio. Not Stochastic is a menagerie of contrapuntal rhythms that create a dense texture. It might be grounded by the traditions of functional dance music, but the lack of intermittent silence rejects the ideas that are fundamental to techno or house. The largely improvised arrangement wallows in the lower-mid frequencies, as a synthesiser, peppered with delay constitutes most of the unadventurous central theme. I would even hesitate to apply the word experiment to this piece since it amounts to little more than a synth jam, with its modulating filters and noise running a pretty unassuming sequential pattern.

 

Trip is more promising in respect to appeasing the balance between the functional demand of the dance floor and the experimental nature of electronic music. The percussive rhythm is very interesting with its overlapping syncopated patterns while short bursts of noises highlight the silence in between from time to time. It’s still more of a DJ tool to me however as very little develops throughout the track, and there is no significant distinction to it at all. I sincerely miss the Hessle Audio charm from past releases, where experimentalism is still ingrained the social aspect of club culture. Bruce appears to be of a generation of the Internet clubber, where boiler room and soundcloud reject the interaction demanded by the clubbing experience in favour of the self-indulgent solitude of the computer screen.

My legs wouldn’t go quick enough restored my faith somewhat. Here the beat still originates from an experimental attitude, avoiding the strict confines of quantisation. It does however attempt a more universal approach in communicating with its audience as a defining structure emerges out of the sustained high frequency sine waves and resonant modulating synthesiser. The dense texture still makes things a little claustrophobic, but it often relents to give a tranquil pad room to relay something ephemeral within the song. It’s not confined to singular pattern that’s extemporised upon continually, but rather clear parts that engage the listener, avoiding much of the monologic natter of the improvised part.

I fear that in his experiments Bruce has merely reverted to the most basic of human instincts, which in fact rescinds the idea of experimentation in the first place. Bruce’s last 12” on Dnuos Ytivil is far more successful in capturing the Hessle aesthetic in my opinion, and I can’t help but wonder what ideas laid behind this approach for Hessle’s 27th release. I believe the experimental overwhelmed function here and while the ideas might be there they have yet to fully form in something that can also denote function.