Vanilla Hammer – Diss Patches (50/50 review part 2)

… Now that we have some distance from Aldous RH’s Seductive Atmospheres, it’s safe to press on to part 2 of kaleidoscope’s first instalment of their new 50/50 series. A series where two unrelated and dissimilar artist share a release, each adorning a side of a single pressing. Vanilla Hammer dominates the flip with Diss Patches where the twisted electronics are said to be influenced by nineties hip hop mixtapes and the bustle of Tel Aviv. The latter’s influence is less than obvious in opener Photo ID with its synthesised recreation of a natural environment accompanying a simple repetitive beat, like some future tribal ceremonial dance to appease the Internet god. You can almost imagine the prospect of humanity in their Technicolor raincoats jamming out on a couple of bent circuit boards in a disused library. Diss Patches is characterised by malfunctioning electronics, which break the flow of development throughout the tracks, spasmodically changing the tracks throughout their short existence. Grabskin glitches along its development, like a broken rave record, pieced together from the shards without any intent on retaining its disc shape. At some point Vanilla Hammer manages to get a bass-line flowing, while the rest of the track falls down around it.

Vanilla Hammer defies categorisation on Diss Patches, going from abstract electronics to the type of tangible sounds you’d find in music concrete – sounds I suspect are synthesised rather than found. Its unique in the way in these various aspects manifest during the course of the EP, but still conforms to the overall tonality of the EP. Bike it for instance starts its life as a track with a clear vision from a dance point of view, before some parts start breaking down and malfunctioning, the hand of the artist smudging the dance-encouraging track through the temporal plain. African Minerals employs a different approach however and recalls the electric tribalism of Photo ID. Various chiming synthesisers and strange percussive anomalies come together in a rich counterpoint of cacophonous sonorities. These seemingly different approaches to the music are all pulled together in a singular voice through Diss Patches and its engaging sound design, which can at times take a quirky turn. The controlled riots of Please act like civilised people act as an ironic social observation when it erratically breaks out of the trance-like repetitiveness of the distorting bass, highlighting a sense of humour in Vanilla Hammer’s music.

It’s the erratic turn the forms take during Diss Patches that becomes its defining characteristic and where the major appeal lies. The short tracks have a shorter attention span and it keeps the listener plugged in to the music. It’s a very different EP to Aldous RH’s Seductive Atmospheres that graces the other side of the release and although there are similarities in the peculiarities of these two artists’ music, any sonic likenesses are indistinguishable. In fact it’s perhaps in their contrasting approaches where one can underscore the appeal of one over the other. Aldous’ slow moving dissonances, does well to highlight the sporadic outbursts of Vanilla Hammer, while the harsh electronics of the latter emphasises the pop-centric arrangements of Seductive atmospheres. I believe patten is sincere when he suggests there is no “overt curatorial connection intended between the separate sides”, but perhaps there is some covert connection between these releases. Not in the similarities they might encourage in the listener, but rather in their contrasting nature and listening to them side by side even with a day’s difference between the two emphasis the eccentricities of either.