Available on: Night Slugs LP
For many, 2010 will be remembered as the year of Night Slugs. Freshly minted and bombastic, the London label released a slew of well-regarded singles throughout the year, capping it all off with the epic ‘Wut’ from Girl Unit and the Night Slugs Allstars Vol. 1 compilation at the end of the year. With micro-genres popping up everywhere, 2010 became a nexus point for all of these sounds and Night Slugs was there to meld them all together into a kaleidoscope of mostly house tempo club music.
Throughout all of the saturated frequencies and hectic snares and hi-hats though, there was one Night Slugs artist who didn’t quite fit the mold. David Psutka, a.k.a. Egyptrixx has quietly built a name for himself on the basis of a kind of minimal UK funky mashed together with cinematic textures and jazzy beat production. His debut album for Night Slugs, Bible Eyes, is a varied exploration of music expanses, turning from portentous to boogie in quick order.
Opener ‘Start from the Beginning’ makes it clear from the off that Bible Eyes is not your typical Night Slugs release. Driven by snthetic keys that mimic the sound of gigantic clock chimes or gongs forming, it bears virtually no resemblance to anything you might be expecting and indeed sounds quite different from the rest of the album. There is some percussion that floats among the ambient textures but the hits function more like melodies than rhythm. Its closest cousin here is the hazy ‘Fuji Club’ (feat. Trust), a slowburning meditation on minimal roots music, reminding me of Rhythm & Sound or Modeselektor’s collaborations with Paul St. Hilare. A seemingly lazy vocal floats through electronic soul and the song builds and builds in the background. These two songs show the more contemplative side of Psutka and are so measured they make me wish for an entire album of this side.
The vast majority of Bible Eyes, though, is dedicated to a warped vision of UK Funky. The title track’s bubbling rhythm and sliding melodies shift and morph across their six minute grid, sometimes indulging an almost over the top exaggeration of frequency-happy synths. The equally long ‘Liberation Front’ could be ‘Bible Eyes’ part two, with a bouncing synthline and Funky thump breaking down into tweaked noise experimentation for the bridge. Soon the song is submerged in heavy layers of texture, only emerging late to end on a high and happy note. Even though many of the songs and structures recall Funky, songs like ‘Naples’ and ‘Chrysalis Records’ slow the pace and sound totally unique doing it. They occupy that magic BPM space where the song sounds upbeat until you dance to it, and then you realize it’s actually quite languid and more suited to driving around in the deep dark night.
At the album’s close is the second version of ‘Recital’, a track clearly so good Egyptrixx did it twice. The ‘a.version’, found earlier on the record is a seven minute roller, with rigidly cold drums and high flying synth pads marked for a minimal techno set. By contrast, the ‘b.version’ is a twinkling abstraction at half the length, and ending Bible Eyes on this psychedelic alternate really emphasises the fact that Psutka could go anywhere from here. Count me in as someone particularly looking forward to seeing where his path turns next.