Lee Gamble makes electronic music that is as equally informed by techno music and the lure of the dance floor as the electronic mysticism of avant electronica, and ends up somewhere in between. The results are equally beguiling, uncompromising and confounding as we’re left with the question of where this music actually sits, or what the expectations are. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it’s this lack of an easily identifiable place keeps you coming back for more.
Gamble makes highly artificial music, his ingredients couldn’t possibly be more synthetic, almost his entire sound palette harkens back to the aforementioned sound worlds – yet he’s using them very much on his own terms. The textures in particular are remarkable, there are buzzes, hisses and at times a graininess you can feel, most of his sounds have some kind of digital tail.
He’s working with the skeletal remains of house and techno music, the repetition, the large bass, the cold tectonic grooves, yet he imbues them with an abstract sense of space, unexpected developments that are often just a little bit outside of the established rhythm, or totally oblivious to it. And that’s in his more cohesive work, like “Nueme,” which begins with a sound like a spin cycle recorded with a transistor, and develops into a fuzzy low fi house groove from a rave that’s happening across the street – the bass consistently dipping in and out like its periodically losing interest or taken away by a gust of wind. There’s a few of these kind of dance floor, or almost dance floor friendly tracks on Koch, though they’re bookended by his more abstract work of swirling electrics, beats that just don’ drop and grooves that refuse to confine themselves to expectations of repetition or coherence. In this sense there are real links to Squarepusher‘s abstracted side, a kind of muscular reworking of the tools of electronic music that almost approaches sound design. Gamble is a long way out on the ledge but doesn’t want to lose his way back in, or over indulge in ego stroking pretentiousness, so even his abstracted experiments still possesses their own innate logic.
Even in the weirdest moments of Koch you’ll find a musical thread. He seems to want to challenge, not alienate. Also his choice of ingredients, EQ’s and textures make the sounds highly seductive even before he begins to wrangle them.
With 16 tracks and clocking in at almost 80 minutes Koch is an over abundance of ideas. There are the aforementioned structural elements of uncertainty, and Gamble’s peculiarly idiosyncratic approach to sound, but each fragment is an echo of something larger, more fully formed. There are roads hinted at but not taken, strange unexpected juxtapositions, and a confluence of nostalgia and innovation, where removed from their traditional contexts the sounds become something else entirely – something new and inspiring.