Anyone who releases a record on Warp automatically steps into some big shoes; the label has long been a purveyor of the finest in forward-thinking electronic music. It’s been home to luminaries such as the Boards of Canada, Autechre and Aphex Twin, amongst others, and can be credited with pushing boundaries and keeping other IDM/leftfield producers on their toes, peering over their shoulders and occasionally cribbing notes.
Team Shadetek consists of two New York City-based producers who grew up on a steady diet of the underground sounds emanating from the city: dancehall, ragga jungle and hip-hop, with an ear tuned to early Warp and experimental electronic releases.
Burnerism, their first proper release (the duo released WHST: Radio Mix on Violent Turd in 2003), is comprised of mangled hip-hop breaks, glitchy electronics and time-stretched samples, all with an underlying groove that, at times, can be difficult to unearth. The urban influence is pronounced, and in addition to pulling influences from here and there, the production ethos seems a tad punk rock. It’s as if they’ve channeled the sensory overload of NYC, coupled it with their own musical heritage and put it in a blender to spit out their own twisted amalgamation.
Sometimes this formula works well. “Lanolin” reminds me of Prefuse 73’s attention to details and razor-sharp edits, with Shadetek placing an emphasis on melody as well, something that doesn’t often happen in this genre. The same can be said with “The Fax,” where well selected, diced jazz breaks are paired with a strained, pitched-up synth melody. The drums on “Two and a Half Months” remind me of Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James Album, but the bagpipe-sounding sample grows a bit tiresome after a minute’s time. This irritation then continues when the duo indulges in some Kid 606-esque freak outs that prove to be too much for these ears on “Infamy Expo.”
Fans of the far leftfield breaks and cut-ups scene will likely feel some songs on Burnerism. If you enjoy DJ/Rupture or any of the every-genre-in-a-blender-and-hit-puree artists and labels out at the moment, the same can be said. For me, the ADD has been slightly curbed with time and I can appreciate the well crafted breaks and some subtle elements of production. But the moments of sonic insanity prove to be grating and abrasive, leading me to go get a breath of fresh air, sip some tea and put on an ambient record.