Egyptrixx EgyptrixxBible Eyes
Of the fifteen vinyl releases to date on the Night Slugs label, only one is by Egyptrixx. Which means that David Psutka is not –or at least, at first sight– a decisive element in the burgeoning maturity of a label that has gone from nothing to everything in the London club ecosystem, and the reason is obvious: not only because his participation has been little, but also because he has hardly come out of his Toronto bubble, and the identity of the label has so far been inseparable from the abrupt mutations of the post-dubstep scene and the reorganisation of British rave music which has its fundaments in the thickness of the bass rather than in the speed of the broken rhythm. And, in spite of all that, during several months, while the buzz in the coterie that made Egyptrixx a producer to keep an eye out for was growing, there was always the presence of Night Slugs, more than any other label the one on which Psutka would have released his music. They were inseparable in essence, and that invisible thread is what has kept a relationship alive that is now undisputable: the Canadian is the one who inaugurates the label’s –we hope long and influential– album catalogue. Just like he started, alongside Mosca, the string of 12”s.
But getting into “Bible Eyes” fully, once again a broad abyss becomes obvious between Egyptrixx and his benefactors. This album is not, at least at first sight, an extension of the single “The Only Way Up EP”, and it sounds rather far from his remixes for The Aikiu ( “Just Can’t Sleep”), Starkey ( “Robot Hands”) and Subeena ( “Wishful Talk”). Put better: it sounds far from them because it’s even better, an augmented and purified version of a sound that is easy to recognise as his and hard to label based on influences. So far, Egyptrixx thing has been a mental treacle of basslines thick as an elephant’s leg and breaks with more ups and downs than a mountain road: his starting point was funky house –with frantic percussion– but he also made sidesteps to electro. On “Bible Eyes”, those traces are conserved, but the plastic surgery Egyptrixx has undergone has enhanced the traces and has gotten him some new implants: in fact, the album sounds like the boldest IDM record of this season –far from the clubbing sound– a deformation of different kinds of music we knew as dance music and now aimed at working most of all as something for the brain.
Keeping distance –or not: the tracks on the album grow with every listen, threatening to take on incredible heights. “Bible Eyes” wants to compete in the same league as LFO’s “Frequencies”: to be an LP of complex unfolding starting from a local scene, underground and violent like the bleep from Sheffield and Leeds at the end of the eighties. While in those day there was a robotic halo and collisions of breaks and pulsating basslines with a background of electro and rave, here we have something similar: the carnavalesque percussion of funky and the obsession with booty electro and the Drexciya school shared by Night Slugs and their Scottish brethren of Numbers, mixed in a metallic stew of various textures. There is the rusty and echoing variety ( “Start From The Beginning”), the slithering one with timpani ( “Bible Eyes”, “Liberation Front”), the psychedelic futurist and dubstepised one ( “Naples”), the variety of slow tribal techno on “Recital (A Version)”, two sidesteps to something like trip-hop ( “Fuji Cub”, “Chrysalis Records”), the bass-version of Border Community’s neo-trance ( “Barely”) and the Drexciyan electro adapted to the pessimism of present times on “Recital (B Version)”.
Granted, it could be that some of the initial excitement fades away when the years (or even weeks or days) pass. But “Bible Eyes” is a record that doesn’t sound like anything else made today and that makes Egyptrixx an outsider –like Squarepusher used to be in drum’n’bass, back in the day– who isn’t phased by the ticks of the hard core of London post-dubstep nor by its protective instincts in the face of sudden change. He wants to skip a few steps at a time, and his ambition is already big enough to acknowledge his merit. And then you have to get into the record, which is a well-designed labyrinth, with hieroglyphs carved in the walls, from which it is still hard to escape and of which it is still hard to say with certainty what it wants to say. And all that can be summarised in two words: good vibes.