This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at Sonicrampage.org.
For the rest of the week I'm going to be doing write-ups for my friends at Finrg, Scandinavia's number one hard dance/freeform hardcore label. They are launching a new digital download site soon, so I'm doing my little bit to help them out.
The Finns are, right now, the number one in the world at making turbo-charged dance music. I've been meaning to get around to doing a full write-up ever since I started this music blog, but every time I've sat down to do it I've felt like there was way way way too much to say, so I haven't done it. Sad but true.
If you want a bit of background/context, check out my old "The Speed of Sound" post for a bit of history and explanation of what freeform hardcore is (ie manically fast multi-layered hard-trancey acid-flecked yumminess). If you want to know a bit more about Carbon Based themselves, check out their site, as well as an interview that I did with them when my good friend Eric Luk and I went out there in the summer of 2003. Man, I have some stories to tell about that trip! You might also enjoy the videos at Sessions 2.
As ever when I write about this type of music, every write-up is going to be done in the style in which I wrote up my review of their 'Straight Out of Finland EP'. No sociology, no history, no nothing, just straight up what it sounds like and whatever weird metaphors I can pick out of my head.
Carbon Based - The Choice - Slowly revolving synth to open, then snap-crackle-pop percussive loop into twisty bass. Slower than a lot of their other stuff, but still pumping. As the kick comes in there's a nice juxtaposition of the icy fairground melody with some weird detuned stabs. Like most of the other Finnish stuff, it slowly builds in intensity as new layers are added, like a graffiti artist building a piece on a wall. Then into the breakdown, with its plaintive, one-note echoey chord giving way, slowly slowly, to a sugary sweet riff that cuts in like Nordic sunshine over a crippled breakbeat. Then, instead of building and building in the traditional style into a massive snare roll, the track abruptly drops back into the kick with a sudden whomp. Keeping it simple for a while with a straight-forward acidy riff and no bassline and an odd sound seemingly dredged from the early 1990's rave scene. Then the tranceyness slowly filters back in as the track kicks itself back up again, layers twisting over each other, your ears navigating the maze of sound.
Carbon Based - Painkiller - Simple dj mix intro into a gnarly bassline that always makes me think of someone frantically tearing off flower petals. I know I have an overactive imagination, it's just that it sounds like someone is ripping pieces off of it even as you hear it. Sample time ("I was hallucinating, there was a blind spot in my head") then a detuned riff saws through the mix with strange industrial sounds flickering in the background. The whole thing sounds submerged, like a dark room somewhere deep beneath the city, blanketed by smoke and strobes. Breakdown time and the main riff comes in, ultra-insistent, a revolving two-step juggernaut. As it kicks back in it reminds you of those tracks you'd hear late late late at night, mad staring eyes looking out across the mutant aerobics on the dancefloor. Fiercely pummeling sound and energy, the whole thing compressed together like a renegade dark star sucking up light itself. Lacking in a memorable main riff like a lot of hard dance, this simply pummels you into submission.