Echologist and Beat Pharmacy

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Echologist: Explorations Vol. 1 (2005), 6/10
Echologist: Subterranean (2011), 6.5/10
Echologist: Storming Heaven (2013), 6/10
Beat Pharmacy: Earthly Delights (2005), 5/10
Beat Pharmacy: Constant Pressure (2006), 6/10
Beat Pharmacy: Steadfast (2007), 6.5/10
Beat Pharmacy: Wikkid Times (2008), 5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Disguised under the moniker Beat Pharmacy, New York-based South African-born techno producer Brendon Moeller resumed the ambient dub project of Banco De Gaia but in a much simpler and steadier format. Earthly Delights (2005) is split between straightforward electronic "polkas" (New Dawn) and dub-psychedelic dances (Race Track Jockey). Constant Pressure (2006) features several vocalists (Allan Hope, Mikey Dread, Paul StHilaire, Ursula Rucker) but their contribution is negligible. The stylistic range is much broader, from the lounge-ready Afro-funk-jazz shuffle Tangerine to jungle polyrhythms with detached flute wails of Caramel, from the sprightly, breezy Velocity to the slow heavily-accented reggae Slow Down, culminating with the fibrillating and very syncopated Floating. Steadfast (2007), perhaps his most accomplished production, boasts the cosmic and jazzy Drifter, the bold and primal Frozen and especially Dub Rocker, an odd beast with a rocking riff, a charleston-like rhythm and a generally "acid" atmosphere. Beat Pharmacy assumed the persona of the sociopolitical bard on Wikkid Times (2008), that contains only one instrumental (the standout, the Moroder-esque House of Love with a festive Mexican-esque fanfare).

Moeller already had a second life as Echologist, a project first documented on Explorations Vol. 1 (2005) a lush excursion into ambient house, fusion jazz, Afro-funk, Madchester psychedelia and dub. Midnight Dub, Sculpture Dub and the terrifying single Dreadscapes (2005) represent the frightening side of the project; the hyper-kinetic Hypnotech and the jumping relentless Crispy the ludic, jovial side of it.

For a few years, however, Echologist only survived in the single and EP formats. Notable singles include: the rousing funk-jazz Strut (2006), with a messianic flute, Faith - Tokyo Mix (2007), a funk shuffle with an anthemic Latin-tinged fanfare, the Caribbean carnival-esque Hustle (2009), backed with the more austere dance-steps of The Sweet Smell Of Psychosis, and the spastic Connect (2010), littered with alien synth blips.

Echologist eventually abandoned that facile dancefloor style for the virtually beat-less ambient dub of Subterranean (2011). Subterranean is abstract soundpainting that uses muffled, distorted beats as found debris in a sonic wasteland. The beat becomes a gasping steam engine in Deliberate (and eventually disappears inside a hissing mist). The beat is drowned in spaced-out, aquatic effects in Creation (and at the end all that is left is a pumping heartbeat). Instead, the slippery hazy Ritual (Phased Rework) reconstructs a beat out of irregular bubbles of spacetime. And Slow Burn (2010) is the notable exception, a more conventional upbeat techno dance.

Beat Pharmacy returned with the propulsive techno single Pump (2010). One of his most creative compositions, the psychedelic and galactic Spark, appared on the anthology Earth Tones 5 (2013). The four-song EP Tricks Of The Trade (2013) contains the impeccable clockwork Jive at Five.

Meanwhile, Echologist evoked a cubistic version of the African jungle in the single Buzz Factory (2012). Storming Heaven (Prologue, 2013) contains one of his most engaging techno locomotives Down The Rabbit Hole, and another eruption of good vibrations appeared as a single, The Mechanics Of Joy (2013). The album overflows with sound effects and technological trivia, from the stuttering industrial rhythm of Next Exit to the neurotic anti-ballad The Frequency Of Love, to the psychoanalytic horror atmosphere of Guilty Pleasures, to the apocalyptic march of Storming Heaven, and to the android ballets M13 DPO and Lost. Unfortunately, half of the album is disposable because it recycles trivial ideas. The four-song EP Geographic (2013), instead, contains the glacial metaphysical techno locomotive of Impossibility.

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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