Graffiti In Space

Graffiti In Space

Paul Dicko, better known as Portland, Oregon electronic musician Strategy, once sent a demo to a European dance music label and the Europeans loved it - they just wanted it to sound a little cleaner, tighter and more professional . The problem was that Dikov liked to record in a mixed setup with borrowed or broken gear and jam straight to two-track stereo. It lacked a high quality audio interface; it would be impossible to cut all the filth out of his tracks even if he wanted to. But eventually he realized that dance music – even the most crowd-pleasing dance music that fills halls – must be wrong . "That's the good thing about well-made reverse music," he told Resident Advisor . “You say, 'Damn! It sounds so shitty and I keep listening, I can't turn it off." Science backed it up, he argued: The ear is tuned for imperfection. "We adjust the tone to what's wrong," he said. If he's confused and has a catch, then you have this wonderful problem and I think that's where I live."

For over 20 years, Dikau has explored the various shades of wrong in his music, finding delicious challenges in comfortable house jams, uncompromising rave anthems and ambient nods that sound like they've been cooked in battery acid. In "Graffiti in Space " Diko draws attention to imperfection towards dub technology. It's a bold proposition, if only because dub techno is so often seen as a paint-by-numbers exercise; It is one of the most formulaic styles of dance music. The Berlin duo Basic Channel perfected the form almost immediately after it was invented, and three decades later it is no longer a living genre but a museum piece. But while much of today's dub techno is fuzzy, bloated and practically smooth, Diko happily digs through the shit.

The opening "Remote Dub" has all the hallmarks of style: throbbing minor chords, deep bass, metronome rhythm. Filters open and close around the misty ostinato water. The mood is somewhere between slightly narcotic and pleasantly narcoleptic. But the texture is classic for the Strategy, soft and chewy, like a bag of candy on the dashboard. All six tracks of the 41-minute long album have the same battered patina. Diko loves to create his own effects devices – compressor pedals, spring reverb – and it sounds something like this; between the toes you can almost smell the hissing lumps of solder. The Fountain of Youth opens in swooping jets of metal amid a loud electrical hum, the atmosphere periodically punctuated by the screech of laser discharge feedback. The elements sound like they're competing for space on the tape: every time that shrill siren sounds, it seems to suck all the air out of the room. But it's also a very powerful track with a cascading bass line that threatens to overwhelm the mix.

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