Cocktail Party Effect – Shattered Retina EP (Tectonic)

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UK born and now Berlin-based electronic producer Charlie Baldwin first started producing free jazz-influenced IDM tracks as Kasket about a decade ago, but during the last three years he’s concentrated on his more techno / bass music alias Cocktail Party Effect, releasing a slew of impressive 12” EPs on labels including Cold Recordings and Transfigured Time.

This latest 12” EP ‘Shattered Retina’ offers up his debut release for Pinch’s Tectonic label and collects together four new tracks that lean distinctly towards bass-heavy techno, with plenty of unpredictable percussion-fuelled twists.

‘Shattered Retina’ kicks things straight out into dark atmospheric territory as an eerie Morse code-like synth pulse echoes across ominous vaporous ambience, only for a dense web of staccato percussive rhythms to lock in against humming synth drones, the sense of claustrophobic sub-bass pressure continually building like a pressure cooker as the synthesised woodblocks hammer out a rattling pulse.

‘Triops’ meanwhile grafts vast distorted dancehall crashes onto a whirling backbone of feather-light techno snares as bleeping synthetic pulses build into a dense web of reverbed-out layers, the industrial-edged rhythmic attack calling to.mind The Bug or the heavier end of Stereotyp’s discography, in what’s easily one of the most post-garage informed moments here.

Over on the flipside, ‘When The Gun Claps’ lives up to its rudeboy gangster title, sending hammering metallic percussion fills hanging out for dear life to a ferocious backdrop of distorted gunshot snares and cavernous bass drops, the cut-up ragga MC samples battling for space amidst the writhing mass of rhythmic textures – indeed, it was easily my favourite track here. Lastly, ‘I Feel Sick’ closes this EP off with a volley of furious tribal percussive rhythms as urgent alarm-style synth pulses blare against distorted sampled grunts and dark humming electronics. Dark impressive stuff that comes with its teeth bared.

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A dastardly man with too much music and too little time on his hands

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