Crawling through the nocturnal underbelly of places like Berlin and Tokyo while on tour with the Dirty Beaches, multi-instrumentalist Shub Roy was inspired to turn these experiences into music. A solo project, Night Musik was born and Transit was the result. The EP – or mini album if you like – takes its cues from nightclub dance floor, and Roy transforms them into dense polyrhythmic structures, dragged through the mud a few times and delivered in slow pulsing tempos for most part. The sounds are piercing and abrasive. Drum machines and synthesisers are coated with a generous portion of distortion and when a kick comes in it dominates everything, squashing the life out of the other parts in the mix. It all starts innocent enough with Theme and a simple dubby melody, played on hollow synthesiser. It seems inevitable though that something more disruptive is lying around the corner as the delay from the synth starts feeding back on itself distorting the upper resonances that the click of the kick already laid claim to. Hard to tell builds up from this incorporating a repetitive acid riff alongside a menacing bass incarnation that destroys most of the low-mids. The uniformity of the essential elements does at times drone on, but Roy avoids monotony by introducing a new melodic element or variation thereof, juxtaposing the static behaviour of the fundamental rhythm section.
Night Musik never appropriates the cues it’s taken from dance music into something that could be simply explained as such. The tempos drag their feet and the layers of the various parts prevent the beats from taking on the central role they so desire. Even on Gold Mirror where the tempo reaches the speed that might propel it on a dance floor, the busy polyrhythmic exercise is too cluttered to inspire a pelvic thrust. I feel that this makes Transit quite an apt representation of the early morning experiences where everything is a little chaotic, just before the peak of an evening where the bodies start dwindling down and you’re left alone with your thoughts, contemplating your life decisions on some indiscriminate dance floor.
You really get a concrete idea of the artist’s adventures in the underground through Transit, and although Berlin and Tokyo might have influenced the work, I find no stereotypes in the music. One can’t really draw a relation to the sparse industrial landscape of the warehouse super-club. It’s rather more like the grimy little hole in the wall at 3am with the fucked-up sound system, where a barman with cigarette hanging out of his mouth pours you drink that has an alcohol to mixer ratio of 5:1. Transit creates a murky representation of a claustrophobic environment filled with a feeling I can only describe as anxious excitement and it makes for an interesting interpretation of night music.