Beat technician Damon Kirkham, better known to bass-driven creatures-of-the-night as Jon Convex, made a seemingly more deliberated step into the realm of solo production than former Nonplus+ comrade Alex Green (Boddika) last year. Following the break up of the highly regarded Instra:mental duo, it would appear that Green has settled into his groove with somewhat more promptitude, which is expectable really, considering the Boddika sound was worked on substantially whilst the pair were still in full swing under the Instra:mental guise.
However, the Convex sound has now has come to fruition in the form of ‘Idoru’, Kirkham’s first album and third release on his ever growing Convex Industries label. This follows on from a string of remixes and a particularly good initial release in the form of his ‘Bump and Grind/Closer’ EP.
In a recent interview with Damon, we established ‘Idoru’ to be a Japanese term relating to an ‘artificial media personality’ and in that light, also considering the artwork, quite perfectly echoes a resemblance to ‘I adore you’. The opening track, ‘Fade’, is a highlight of the album for me. Despite the vocal becoming somewhat draining after a while, the rattling drum arrangement and progressive chiming synth clearly show Convex has made a healthy transition from drum and bass to house/techno, bringing a few trade secrets with him. A similar framework can be found in both ‘What I Need’ and ‘About Her’ respectively, all three surely destined for the record bag of various house and techno connoisseurs.
In a somewhat contrasting manner, ‘Shadows’ focuses primarily on a raw, gritty bass line, accompanied by a steady yet progressive drum loop, peppered with random elements of echoing percussion. I found it to be an exercise in expression and experimentation that works, which for me, can’t be said of the harder, techno centred tracks ‘Aversion’ and ‘Desolation’, of which I found to be quite bland, almost filling gaps in the album. I do accept, however, that for the most part these will appeal to the ‘stern schwa’ techno aficionados the world over. In fact, ‘No Love’ takes me right back to the warehouse parties of Berlin, demonstrating a deep ascending bass line, snappy snare and dark vocal. Authentic as anything.
I have a lot of respect for the way in which Convex operates. He is known for taking the reigns in all aspects of a releases constitution, from orchestrating the cover art to the composition itself. This album, for me, encompasses all aspects of what Kirkham envisions for his Convex moniker and it is apparent that he has genuinely made something that he likes, disregarding, to an extent, what may or may not be liked (expressing in a recent Hyponik interview that the album is certainly opposed to the manufactured make up of modern pop music). The title track itself, ‘Idoru’, incorporates most of what was previously demonstrated throughout the album, with the use of a memorable, resonating horn and ethereal outro to end. I can’t picture myself sitting down with a brew and biscuits, listening to Kirkham’s ‘Idoru’ whilst drawing a rainbow, but I can see myself nicely immersed in it at a thumpy club night.