Without even realising it, my first contact with New York label Purple Tape Pedigree was their debut release – the self-titled mixtape from druggy Denver rap duo Gorgeous Children back in 2012. Then, a gap – PTP002 didn’t arrive until early 2015, and it was only with the first instalment in the Body Horror series (a split 12” between Gang Fatale and CYPHR) that I really became aware of the label as an entity.
That came out in October of last year, and since then each new month has brought with it another excellent release from the likes of DJ NJ Drone, Joey LaBeija and Endgame. With no signs of burnout, label boss Geng says this fierce pace will last at least up until the end of 2016.
Anyway, the latest offering comes courtesy of returning producer Celestial Trax, who was responsible for the label’s second ever release, as well as a series of EPs on Rinse. From The Womb is club music at its most heavily abstracted, where the dancefloor as a 2D plane cedes power to the club as a 3D space, a sonic environment whose darkness and transgressive possibilities are fed back into the music.
Before we get into the music, it’s worth mentioning the stellar artwork. It’s both alluring and somewhat disturbing, in the sort of way that burrows deep under your skin. Is it some imagined futuristic fashion? An instrument of suffocation? Something else entirely? Whatever the answer, it sets the tone perfectly.
‘Together’ opens with a strange martial drumbeat as if baiting the listener, drawing them closer to the dislocated Sirens’ voices floating about in the ether. The music operates in discrete sections, facilitating sudden textural shifts and about-turns. Ice cannon synths drain through gloopy residue, before a segment which sounds like the universe folding itself into a tiny ball and disappearing forever.
If ‘Together’ feels cobbled together from bits of workshop junk, ‘Bleed Wiv Me’ is more whole, as though hewn from a giant slab of rose-pink marble. Imagining what it might sound like if the planets could communicate with each other, spacey choral elements dovetail perfectly with R&B cooing, and it should appeal to fans of Mssingno or Silk Road Assassins. ‘Secrets’ follows in a similar vein but with fractured gunshot percussion that recalls the Her Records stable.
From The Womb is rounded off in ethereal style with ‘Bodily’. Of all four tracks, this is the one that undoubtedly leaves you scrabbling around to pick your jaw up off the floor. Its shimmering, ruptured textures seem to owe something to noise rock or the glitchy shoegaze of Fennesz, while the track’s structure leaves me thinking of the ‘weightless’ strand of instrumental grime being explored by artists such as Mr. Mitch.
Celestial Trax is one of a growing number of forward thinking club producers who understand the power of silence – here it’s wielded as a weapon, and frequently used to devastating effect, allowing new elements to suddenly emerge with maximum impact. Combined with frankly stunning sound design chops, it all results in one of the most arresting and accomplished EPs in any genre this year so far.
From The Womb is out now on Purple Tape Pedigree.
Words: Cosmo Godfree