V/A – ‘The Blonde’, ‘The Brunette’ & ‘The Redhead’ (Mistress)

DVS1’s sublabel Mistress – from main body HUSH recordings – releases a 3 part EP release that encapsulates the label’s ethos of exploring various regions of dance music whilst maintaining an aesthetic that is hard to find in even the deepest fathoms of underground House and Techno. Separated in to three feminized sections that identify the sounds and generify them in a collective manner, we start with ‘The Blonde’:

Part 1 of 3 begins with an unexpectedly House-y affair that creates a gentle balance in the trio. ‘Thuesdub’ by Jonas Friedlich opens with ominous thuds and a Shed-esque feel to it, before soft pads and crisp, double-time percussive elements give the give it a dusty, dubbed-out atmosphere that develops into something of a similar vein to Hessle Audio material with a zesty twist. ‘Purple Saturn Day’ by Liverpudlian ASOK is a heady tune that continually rises through layers of atmosphere; interludes and tribal skits comprised of a great combo of hollowed wood and steel percussion break up gentle crescendos and string ascensions. Nicson & An Gelo create a pure, Disco-tipped groove in ‘Freek’: subtle pitch bends in the strings and silky female vocals prance atop a pumping beat for this track – the lightest on the EP. Whilst ending the first section, Kirill Mamin’s ‘Cutting’ seals the deal with a Fred P-style atmosphere oozing out of lamenting strings and a perfectly executed syncopated beat that thumps away via a dystopian groove and subtly builds into a raw power track.

As the second component, ‘The Brunette’ brings the power. Four distorted, gritty pieces make their way into the release as peak-time (or thereabouts) bangers that each have the potential to obliterate dancefloors/take the listener to particularly dark places. Ombossa’s ‘Bonish Thuggish’ is a tribal workout laced with minor key arpeggios that spiral downward, whilst an intermittent vocal sample saying ‘the silence’ over-and-over gives this chugging track a ghoulish feel. ‘Track 20’ by Jerome Baker is wickedly minimal and groovy; snares ride a heavily distorted kick accompanied by staccato clicks and beeps and a 2-note key harmony. Having previously released on Mistress, Juxta Position are the only artists on this release for whom this is not a debut; their track ‘World Domination’ is a jacking Acid trip where soft crashes pair up with punchy kicks and a fierce bassline, while Discrete Circuit’s ‘Incursion’ goes for the 4:30 am vibe with raw percussive components and Trance-like single-note synth – Jeff Mills inspired stuff.

The Third piece of this release (‘The Redhead’) is heavily atmospheric and mainly comprises tracks for the wee-small hours, meditative numbers that require a dedicated ear and a hazy mind-set. ‘Noisy Ride’ by Nutype is a pumping trip that is intro-d by woozy synths and snappy percussion, breaking away into an groovy echo laced track, haunted by spaced out vocals and floaty chords. Mike Gervais’ ‘Grind’ is a subtly groovy track that relies on overly distorted kicks and strung out, pitched-down keys for the aesthetic whilst skittish hats keep things tense and moody.

‘Autobahnkirche’ by Opinion is sharper, wittier stuff that keeps evolving through syncopation and precise key chords, whilst a dubbed-out bass line is draped over a minimal percussive element, formed of ticking clock noises and a warm, pulsing kick; dark, emotive and powerful stuff. Just to make sure all bases are covered on the minimal aspect, A&S bring ‘Xenix’ to the release, similar to ‘Incursion’ on 5.2, this Mills inspired track is laced with more crashes, kicks and cymbals you can shake a stick at. This trip gets the full Axis treatment with a relentless 4-note melody and beautiful backing echoes to compliment. All in all a wonderfully balanced release from a truly exciting label.

The Blonde, The Brunette and The Redhead are out 15th March on vinyl via Mistress Recordings. Pre-order here.

Oliver Todd

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