- Peverelist's Punch Drunk imprint is known for its experimental variations on a dubstep template, but so far, they've been just that: dubstep. The latest release, the label's twentieth, is a limited-run special edition seeks to change this, melting the template into viscous puddles of impenetrable sludge. Bristolian Ekoplekz is a sound artist—certainly not a dance music producer—who has been operating for a few years, though "Stalag Zero" marks his first release on an actual label. Recording his tracks directly to cassette, his own mission statement boldly claims "absolutely no post-production during mixdown/digitisation," and I tend to believe him. It's beyond me what could have produced these sounds, but they sound nowhere close to digital.
They inhabit a very specific lo-fi section of the frequency spectrum, but aurally they're mammoth, hulking exhibitions of sounds pooling and dispersing. "Stalag Zero" painfully stretches out Halloween-calibre strings, as jellied and coagulated remnants of synths pulsating in some gross pretense of rhythm. There might be a kick drum, but it's more like a far-off echo. "Distended Dub" turns pure liquid, with synths attempting to puncture its porous surfaces but merely getting lost inside the gooey innards, the rhythm even more obscured than on the flipside.
This is a brave release for an established dubstep label, and while it's good that Ekoplekz' releases finally have a home, Punch Drunk isn't the first to come to mind. While they're intriguing and well-timed, capturing 2010's obsession with induced decay, hauntology and the cassette revival, it's hard to imagine these could work in a set aside from esoteric intros or outros.
A Stalag Zero
B Distended Dub