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Scrap.edx – The Latitude Zero Project

Scrap.Edx - The Latitude Zero Project

2CD, DTA Records, 2004

Since its debut [proper] album “Non-Linear Interfacing” in 2002, Connecticut-based breakbeat industrial unit Scrap.edx a.k.a. Scrape[dx] – they really can’t decide where the punctuation goes – has lost member Jason Becker and gained a degree of subtlety and finesse that was arguably lacking in the previous release. Remaining member Joshua Colella has toned down the harsh digital distortion and stripped down the beats, going for a less dense, less aggressive sound, carefully placing clicks and stabs of percussion along the three axes of time, stereo spectrum and dynamic range; the resulting arrangements, overlaid with simple pulses and waves from emulated oscillators, achieve a creepy sense of foreboding and malice that is no less energetic or intense.
Collela is an unashamed gear fetishist, and names many of his tracks after components of the virtual machines used in their creation, along with datestamps for reference. The more outstanding tracks, however, tend to have more memorable monikers on the whole, and I’m not sure which way cause and effect works here. “Illusive Second Phase”, seemingly inspired by cult sci-fi game “Metal Gear Solid”, is a disturbingly complex breakcore creation that would give Venetian Snares a run for his money – but without needing toresort to Funk’s in-yer-face shock tactics – while “Mc02 Xenophobic Algorythm” and “Md06 Drum Array” cast dark and brooding spells reminiscent of Hecate’s drum’n’bass magick. Every so often Josh really lets rip: the pounding technoid onslaught of “Defcon 1 Version 4” and the machine-room industrial rhythms of “The Fruitless Search For Personal Utopia” give a taste of what the Scrap.edx live experience feels like.
Disc two, the remixes, is a virtual who’s-who of the cutting-edge talent in the noisebeat/dark electronica scene, and Hypnoskull… Whose predictably squeaky-voiced contribution is, to be fair, a touch more involved than most of their own tunes. Mlada Fronta start things off sounding comparatively un-messed-with, but veer halfway through into “Chiastic Slide”-era Autechre territory, and Dither finish things off in the same vein. Inbetween, Cdatakill and Tarmvred assault us with batteries of percussive noise, while Cell Auto Mata, Pneumatic Detach and the recently-ubiquitous Proyecto Mirage play up the dancier elements more. Meanwhile Autovon, Detritus and Liar’s Rosebush offer their various interpretations of the music in slightly more laid-back, atmospheric terms. Whether by accident or design, most of the reworkings use a very similar set of sounds to the original tracks, with the exception being Combat Astronomy, who sound much sleazier, dubbier and lo-fi. Interestingly, some of the source material is from Scrap.Edx’s days as a duo, although the stylistic differences come out in the wash pretty much.
This is an album that deserves to be listened to very closely indeed, if only for the deftness of the programming, let alone the spaces the sounds explore and the mood they can conjure. The trouble with cutting-edge electronica is that it can date very quickly, although the moments that sound less bang-up-to-date than the rest, for example the synths on “Ultra Bassmorph…” and the occasional cheesy porno-groan samples, are in the minority and are nevertheless competently executed. With 25 tracks and a bonus video from last year’s Infest – Bradford rarely looks this sexy – this album makes a great value package from an innovative young musician.


— Andrew Clegg

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