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Lee
Gamble: Mnestic Pressure (Hyperdub)

I’ve
always considered the nebulous world of contemporary IDM and electronic
listening music as having two discrete phases in the 90s: before Tri
Repetae
and after Tri Repetae; that is the album in which Autechre refined their
sound into a new blend of glitchy rhythms, melancholy pads, clear
melodies, and a tendency to shy from the actual dancefloor (part of
why “IDM” has always seemed a misnomer). It was an exciting thing to hear,
electronic music advancing alongside the technology that enables its
potential, morphing in ways no one had necessarily heard before. A whole
host of labels, artists, and sub-genres came out of that tipping
point of inspiration, but many of them lingered in that zone of syncopated melancholia while Autechre
moved on in more abstract and unusual directions, often
abandoning melody or conventional rhythm altogether. It’s refreshing
to hear a whole new wave of artists who’ve no doubt been at least
somewhat influenced by Autechre’s later waves of abstraction, with a
genuine curiosity and enthusiasm around deconstructing music and
genres and stitching it all together in bold and sometimes downright
odd ways. All of that is a long-winded preamble to my perception of Lee Gamble as one such artist, demonstrated through his
3 previous fearless albums for the Pan label — perhaps the most exciting
playground for interesting forms and takes on this new wave of
inspired post-IDM abstraction — and this new album for Hyperdub, the
esteemed UK bass music label that introduced the world to Burial,
Kode9, and numerous other talents. If many an IDM act ca. 2000-04
were inspired by late 90s Autechre, Gamble might be comparably
inspired by the more abstract nature of later Autechre records like
Draft 7.30 or Quaristice. Gamble continues the arc established by
Dutch Tvashar Plumes and Koch, but he’s honed his craft and tightened
up his ideas, as varied and disparate as they are. Mnestic Pressure
is a fascinating tapestry of production, often mangling traditional
rhythm and conventions and fusing them with manipulated synths and
samples.

Lee Gamble – Mnestic Pressure (HDBCD037) by Lee Gamble

Compared to his 2014 double album Koch, Mnestic Pressure
feels concise and fast-paced, rarely staying in one place for very
long but never feeling rushed. He’s also fully dropped any of the
more regular techno leanings that were peppered throughout Koch,
instead opting for more sculptural sound design. One of its best and
longest tracks is “Swerva,” and indeed it feels like it swerves
around hairpin turns at least a few times toward something wholly
different. It’s exciting stuff that sounds good both on a loud system
with good low end and headphones, with tons of details to be found in
its swirl of effects, edits, and layering. The rapid-fire, modulated
arpeggios of “Quadripoints” splits the difference between
Autechre’s more recent double-time rhythmic excursions and the
MIDI-esque explorations of contemporary producer Oneohtrix Point
Never. Leftfield, percussive racket ricohets through tracks like
“UE8” and “Ignition Liftoff,” the latter being one of a few
here that feel like Gamble’s reaching further outward from his debut,
Diversions 1994-1996, whose tracks were largely created out of source
material from that time. Instead of obvious nods to drum & bass,
Gamble breaks it all apart on the sputtering “East Sedducke,” but
“Ghost” incorporates more traditional breaks and chimes toward
the end of the album, recalling with more reverence the golden years
of 90s UK drum & bass. Across the board, through all of these
twists and turns and references and gestures, the album feels like an
enthusiastic, wild ride. Far out enough to appeal to fans of outer
limits electronic music with an edge but with enough nods to
convention and dynamic pacing to engage the curious. Crazy good.

Buy it: Bandcamp