To many, Lanark Artefax aka Calum MacRae was introduced in July of this year, the month that saw the release of the Glaswegian artist’s Glasz EP, a dense five track effort released through Lee Gamble’s UIQ label. Garnering support from a host of influential DJs, ranging from Mumdance and Mary Anne Hobbs to Beatrice Dillon, Gamble and Mosca, Glasz has proven to be one of the breakout releases of 2016, drawing fans from across the electronic music spectrum to his brittle sonics and uncanny rhythmic structures. Preceding Glasz, Artefax released the Windox Rush EP, a similarly woozy, albeit less fully formed extended player released through Cong Burn Waves. For one reason or another, Windox Rush is no longer available online, making Glasz the Glaswegian’s functional debut, a fitting circumstance for a release that truly sounds like nothing else released in 2016 (or before it for that matter.)
In interviews, MacRae points to monumental IDM figures like Autechre, The Black Dog and Mike Paradinas as all having had an influence on his sound, a path through recent history and sound that seems to point more towards their approach to structure and experimentation than it does to exact sonics. In charts and other interviews, MacRae points to the expansive musique concréte of Valerio Tricoli, SKY H1’s “bleak but really lovely” sounds and UIQ label head Lee Gamble, all artists in the PAN universe, as contemporary reference points, a map of artists utilizing drastically different toolsets to approach what might be called with avant-garde music with heart. Which is exactly where Lanark Artefax and Glasz sit, a fundamentally left field leaning project that nonetheless functions on a corporal and emotional level rarely found in experimental musics. His Astral Plane mix is a case in point, a rich collage of voice, texture and rhythm that begins with work from Emra Grid, Broshuda and D/P/I and climaxes in efforts from Félicia Atkinson & Jeffre Cantu-Ledesma and Renick Bell. Of course, Mazzy Star’s “Into Mist” ends the mix, a romantic gesture that is hardly out of place in the context of MacRae’s music. Get Glasz here and catch us eagerly looking out for whatever is next for Artefax and UIQ.
Renick Bell often performs his compositions at what are called algoraves, a collision of live coding and rave music in physical space, and has also performed at a Linux Audiio conference and a host of technology, cognition and art events. To date, the music he has released has largely been comprised of the Fractal Beats series, a series of beats composed algorithmically that often resemble footwork, hardcore and the prickliest of Detroit techno. Despite the somewhat didactic underpinnings of Renick’s work, the Tokyo-based producer/coder’s sonic output does have an immediately gratifying edge to it, hence the rave component of the algorave setting. In his mix compositions, both for live settings and art-technology hubs like aqnb and JG Biberkopf’s Unthinkable series on NTS and the O FLUXO mix series, tracks from artists like Toxe, DJ Nervoso, Sentinel and x/o, along with a host of artists from the Quantum Natives camp, repeatedly show up in track lists and instead of being awkwardly shoehorned in with Bell’s own idiosyncratic creations, they are actually situated comfortable among his own coded works.
While the credentials set out above might make one think that Renick’s Fractal Beats might be more fit for coding conferences than any sort of more linear dance/electronic music event, his forthcoming releases might make one think differently. Along with an album for Quantum Natives, Bell will be releasing on Lee Gamble’s UIQ, Rabit’s Halcyon Veil and London’s Beatgatherers set in the near future, a departure from the more than slightly indecipherable (from our position at least) world of live coding, algoraves and academic papers on live coding and pragmatic aesthetic theory. In the context of those release, the inclusion of the aforementioned artists becomes clearer and with tracks from T-EA, Ling, City and Zuli in his Astral Plane mix, it’s clear that his output, while not for everyone, can and should be contextualized in a wider field of electronic and club music artists. And from the position of a technology/coding layman, Bell’s music has an immediacy that extends beyond its compositional inception, a basis in rave culture that, despite how broken the Fractal Beats series may come off, manifests itself in subtly undeniable grooves that are weaved throughout his tracks and mix work.