Acid – electro – boogie – Perhaps unsurprisingly, all three elements are at the digital heart of Wave Funk, the latest release from the electronic-making machine which is DMX Krew. Ed DMX is a producer and DJ whose very being is so intertwined within the circuitry of IDM, he may be part robot, existing somewhere in the wirey hinterland between human and synthesiser.
Indeed, since the ‘Sound of Steel’ emerged on Aphex’s Reflex imprint back in 1996, Ed DMX appears to have done little else other than make records or DJ. As the head of Breakin’ records, long-time Aphex affiliate and a DJ whose versatility is only matched by his unmatched ability to get any dancefloor twitching, he’s certainly one of the godfathers of UK electronica. The man’s dedication to the noble arts of acid and electro-funk conjure up images of him refusing to be without his collection of vintage analogue synths. He probably eats and sleeps next to his beautiful machines.
‘Wave Funk’ contains two discs – the first is ‘Wave Funk Volume 1’, which was originally released on vinyl only while the second features moments from his ‘The Collapse of the Wave Function’ series. Perhaps what’s the most surprising is how fresh DMX Krew’s digital juice now sounds. It would be easy for a producer who has been in the game for as long as DMX Krew to make music which sounds long past its sell by date. And these synths are certainly vintage, harking back to a time when dance music could be made without being weighed down by the power of the internet and the ability to access a sound at the touch of a button. But, despite his love of classic equipment, his electronica is laced with as many ideas and melodies as it is nostalgia. He manages to plug a wildly creative and prolific vitality into his Rolands which twitch, squelch and pulse as if their (battery) lives depended on it – it makes for an album which is as playful as it is consistent.
The whole record is hard to not like. ‘Mr Blue’ is so optimistic, it could be a sprightly theme to a child’s programme of the future if it was provided by a band of robots learning how to smile for the first time. I can’t control the feeling pulses around an uneasy vocoder while ‘Wave Funk’ conjures up the spirit of Zapp, oozing an oily sleaze so filthy any self respecting listener should opt for a wash, then perhaps a cry afterwards. ‘Cherry Ripe’ is more cosmic but still features the atonal wrongness which defines any release on Rephlex. Elsewhere he delves into more ambient and cinematic territories while also veering between dissonance and deceptively simple pop – Although DMX Krew’s vintage synths may not be making a particularly different sound to previous releases, the balance of infectious melody and acid is nigh on perfect throughout – meaning ‘Wave Funk’ could just be the best, and most cohesive work he’s released. He may have been in the game for some time but you really wouldn’t want to hear him having it any other way.
Words // Jim Ottewill