Various - Various EP Part 2 (Well Street Records, 2020)
When searching for continually exploratory soundscapes, you need look no further than the excellent Well Street Records, who once again provide a phenomenal soundtrack to any late night meander through the inner realms of the mind.
Music can be intrinsically expansive, a notion that runs deep through its core right through the strata and sub levels before rising right to the surface, providing a sense of musical depth and width that speaks to the senses and the consciousness in equal measure. When placed and spaced within the right parameters, all the objects, tones and features start to really shine, taking the time to greet us as we float by perpetually through a soundscape of the grandest proportions. Its quite a feat to make a song feel larger than the ear phones, to expand into the surrounding context and light up the world with its rhythmic wonderings and melodic touches, flowing between our immediate vicinity and soundtracking the world we see around us. Some genres have made it their goal to explore every facet of the cross-spectrum experience, where the music organically flows and moves much like life itself, a foot in realism but a big view towards the idealism of it all, the in-between spaces becoming the main focus in the music. All is shown equally, from the tiniest note through to the biggest swell, all remains clear and in focus as we dive deeper into a engrossing soundscape that takes all the time in the world to unravel itself to the utmost level of incorporation. And, as if that wasn't enough, a sense of superb variety and dynamism becomes apparent too, where the structures that bind the essences together becoming a fluid ecological momentum that strives to move with multiple rhythms and emotive tones, looking to craft a sound that core spreads as far as possible to ensure a truly unique experience. This kind of approach has become quite prevalent and relevant in the modern age, particularly in the realms of techno which has seen a group of labels looking to push an audial aesthetic which is big on tonal and percussive emphasis, all the while keeping a leftfield spirit that crafts highly enjoyable experiences. Sometimes referred to as broken techno, or UK techno, its a style that draws from many places in order to continually refine and aid in its sound, a melting pot of idealism, creativity and experimentation that due to its wide as hell range has produced some excellent music in recent years. It remains one of the contemporary scene's most intriguing creations, and in a musical landscape where saturation is commonplace, the labels and producers who dwell within this scene have inhabited a space within that which continually adds and fuels the ongoing narrative. Bold, inventive and invigorating, its a ideology that does much to bring new ideas and thoughts to the table, about how we approach music making, an inspiring pool of thought and expertise that translate so much within the music being birthed from that scene. Its nice to know that when a record slides along from someone associate with the scene, that it will always further ideals, discourse and concept, no matter the time of day.
One label that very much resides within this world of continual momentum and forward thinking is the UK based label Well Street Records, with their outputs being amongst the most intriguing of the current UK techno scene. A sound that at times that catapults from the clouds, at other moments swelling up from the gritty concrete underbelly, and at other times emerging from the deep hues of a highly charged sunset, Well Street have continually pushed excellence in the realms of sonics and diversity, staying true to their core values that contain within an enormous scope to experiment and switch up their many formulas. Its an approach that has served them very well indeed in endearing music lovers to their sound, a narrative that searches and probes every aspect of experimental, broken and leftfield techno with enthusiasm and unbridled joy, a wondrous journey that has conjured up so many memorable moments throughout their discography. Be it through the haze of the melodic features, the distant call of the twinkling keys, the mumourings of technological sounds, or the skipping tonally organic drumming patterns, each time out represents a new flavour being added to the spectrum. You find yourself joyously jumping between releases, content in the knowledge that the experiences you get involved within differ yet remain intrinsically interlinked, flowing with ease and passion from realm to realm in a narrative weaving that is very hard to deny. Each release sings as loudly as possible, showcasing an ability to traverse many plains of audial and sensory feel all the while holding proceedings together with razor sharp productions and arrangement excellence. In terms of showcasing an identity through multiple records, Well Street have truly smashed it out of the park, with a dip into any of their records demonstrating everything that they look to represent, whether its their debut record or their latest, it all hangs together flawlessly. Looking back through their discography, we are simply going to highlight everything, because its all stand out and is worthy of a mention, starting off with the excellence in undulating textures and tones that vibrates from the label's debut, 'Stepping Back', produced by label mate Loop LF and was released back in 2017; the collective brilliance that emerges from the debut EP compilation, 'Untitled', that arrived in the same year; the dubby blissed out tones and atmospheres that reside within the Robert Fleck produced 'Soft Focus' EP, that arrived in 2018; the incredible variety in pulse that makes up the extraordinary Ruff Cherry produced 'Carousel' record, that arrived in the same year; the beautiful ebbs and flows that rain down from up high on perhaps our favourite release, 'Natural XT' by Loop LF, that arrived in 2019; the perfected blends of dubbed out bass and exquisite drumming patterns that emerges from the 'Postdrome' record by Significant Other, that also arrived in 2019; and finally, the brilliant 'Drifting Forwards' record by Loop LF, that landed earlier this year. There are many excellent labels pushing this new kind of techno orientated sounds, with each imprint marching to the beat of its own drum and making remarkable music along the way, with Well Street no different. Their music remains so pure, so heartfelt, but undeniably in depth and compelling, crafting journeys through the streets right through to the stars above, in a blended approach that always yields incredible results. If you like your meanderings through perfected soundscapes that are always worth returning to, then we recommend turning your attention to the Well Street back catalogue, trust us its worth the time.
And now we arrive at their latest offering, their second compilation EP, 'Various EP (Part 2), and just like with the first - indeed their whole discography - you are in for a real experience indeed. Featuring a new set of producer pals, the record once again showcases the Well Street sound, with plenty of atmospherically driven sub scapes and ethereal mumours, with swelling tremors ascending before descending back into the murky sub bases. Each track brings a differing flavour to proceedings, expertly showcasing all the individualism that producer brings to the table but with so much space afforded to giving into the Well Street sound, a presence that binds the music together expertly, as ever. So, without further delay, lets wonder right through their latest compelling narrative, a new chapter in the continually engrossing Well Street story......
Up first comes Box 5ive with his track 'Silicate', with the immediate tones and textures setting the ground rules for things to come. The drums begin off in the distance somewhere, muted and subtle in their direction and flow, with a heavy amount of spatial feel added into the middle, before they come full circle and into our main point of view. The track moves fluidly into its main rhythmic structure, with the only melodic feature being the bass line that occupies the underbelly of the track, with loads of interesting variations occurring rhythmically, with little percussive features springing into life as the track moves onwards. There is a real emphasis on the overall sonics, with a delicate hand applied to how each feature and element interacts and counteracts with one another, which in turn applies a unfathomable amount of depth into proceedings. The percussive features then recede slightly in order to accommodate the singular constant of the pad that floats into view for a few moments, its melodic feel applying a tone that works so so well, before it flies away to draw the focus right back to the excellent structures that existed before. There is time for one more foray into the melodic side of things, as the synth hangs in the air one more time, the horizon line now in sight, as the track plays itself out into the urban realm, bouncing and responding to the energies that define continual interaction and movement. A very very strong start. Up next comes Keppel with his track 'Taken For Granted', which begins in similar percussive territories but with less of the significance on ambience. That doesn't last long however as the intriguing drumming patterns are quickly joined by all manner of crunchy and texturally considered sounds, ones that wash over the track so well indeed, with our minds being drawn further and further into the progressions. The vocal sample then rings out over the sub base of rhythm and sound, its placement and dynamism acting as the core melodic driver, with additional keys added in to draw their power out further over the plains that persist on top. The overall picture is one of intense deepness, crafting an experience that is profoundly engaging, a top notch blend of drums and vocals at does much to explore every single part of the relationship the two share. The drums drop out for a moment, allowing the vocals to really showcase themselves to the fullest extent, taking the time to build our bonds with the essence, before the drums explode back into life with all the excitement and beauty this world has to offer. The track then saunters through the next few phases with all the heart and soul in the world, expertly deviating through an enriching landscape that is so irresistible, a real joy to engage with and experience. Excellent shit.
Up next comes Henry Greenleaf with the track 'Snide', and just like with the previous cuts the drums lead the way. The track starts off quite passively, before building in sound and depth, the drums becoming more full as time passes by, with the building anticipation becoming more palpable with each passing second, and that's exactly when the drops to end all drops occurs. The music cuts out, and then lands right into this utterly intoxicating scene, with the reverbarating key line rising and rising some more, on a bed of backdrop cymbals and softly spoken kicks, and as a mix of elements its pretty extraordinary. This blend moves onwards and upwards for a while, extending its feel across all elements of the track, before the music cuts out once more before flowing right into another interpretation of the key drivers found within the track, the layering this time set even further back, as if Greenleaf took the previous incarnation of the flow and merged it directly into this one, with additional key work adding further to the progressions going forward. Its masterfully done, a blend of features that is highly imaginative and throughly enjoyable to engage with and get involved within, as there is still time for one final pulsating movement through the lines, before the track descends into the night, waiting to soundtrack yet another technological wondering. Incredible, really. To wrap things up, we have Formant Value with their track 'Polycausa', and this one starts off in a very ethereal context indeed. The soft drumming patterns unravel as time marches on, their delicate whispers underpinning a progressively enriching melodic top layer, that peaks and drifts between keys and twinkling rhythms, with a deep set chordal line providing a compelling backdrop for the entire ensemble. The whole picture is one of intensity and drive, with a real sense of place and purpose inserted into the comings and goings of the movements in melody and tone, with all manner of objects and elements taking the time to pop their head above the parapet and make themselves know to us. The blend of sequences is top notch, with the level of intensity swelling with each new line added into the mix, crafting an narrative that allows clarity and focus to be drawn to each little sub plot and twist. The track continues to mesmerise with each passing structure, content to flow and unravel in its own time as we get drawn further and further into its undeniably rich undertone, an experience that seems the perfect send off to the latest record in Well Street's brilliant discography. Truly one for the ages.
Compilation records should always look to represent the beating heart of a label, a collection of tunes done by label friends and like minded individuals who share audial and creative ideals, feeding into the identity as much as adding to and furthering it. Much like Volume 1, Volume 2 simply raises the Well Street flag and carries it with the utmost pride, with the four cuts found on here so brilliant in their own ways but as a totality representing what the label is all about. Simmering melodic work, outstanding beat structures and gorgeous environmental feels, there's a lot here to celebrate and get to know, with the music always showcasing a high level of care and attention, to both the sonics and the depths of it all. A mini masterclass in broken techno, and a record we consider to be up there with the years best. Check it!
Support the troops: