A shining example of the versatility of electronic music
A Certain Ratio’s newest EP ACR:EPC is a techno-fueled work that reminds one of the best of late 1990s house music. The groove is tumultuous, having a rhythm that fundamentally brightens moods. Perhaps one of the most misunderstood genres, house music plays to the most driven aspects of music. It is notably difficult to create a good house track, especially one that seems timeless. The likes of early Daft Punk, Modjo and Aphex Twin all have the driving force of a repetitive pattern, but with more complex interjections in order to create the push-and-pull necessary for a danceable track. ACR:EPC is a homage to one of the most profound moments in techno-music, playing to the best of the zeitgeist.
The opening track, “Emperor Machine (ACR vs. The Emperor),” introduces listeners to the production work of the likes of Digitalism, with the mixing of late 1970s/early 1980s instrumentals. It is a very familiar feeling to those that enjoy the genre. It punctuates the beat with a synthesizer, allowing the song to maintain a fun dynamic. Repetition can be an easy trap to fall into, so to see the song bring forth the joy that comes from house music is not only refreshing but a true tribute to how influential the pioneers of the genre were. The first track cements its love for the genre.
“The Guv’nor” has more dark elements to it than the opening track, with a driving beat being within the drums rather than the synthesizer. Distortion takes hold, toying with the beat in a way that creates a sort of calamity. If the first track was supposed to be more inspired by earlier house music, this plays with later innovators who used electronic music in more brooding, moody tracks. Haunting voices linger throughout the clangs of percussion instrumentals. It is not that joy is not present within the song anymore. Rather, the album seeks to experiment with its sound to great lengths. One can hold much appreciation to how the work seeks to not pigeonhole itself. This track is much more emotionally driven, taking into account the use of its lower-range instruments to create a more chaotic work.
By contrast, “YOYOGRIP (Long)” is a fundamental blast to the past. It is admirable just how true the song is to the disco era. Disco, personally considered one of the most timeless genres, has evolved into more modern work. With the remixed instrumentals, the vocals overlaying it feels as if one is transported to an older club. The production on the EP is unreal in sending one backward, leading one to truly feel connected rhythmically to the past. By the bridge, modernity takes control, distorting lyrics in a way that shows, albeit briefly, the modernity of newer electronic production. All being said, the happiness that radiates from the instrumentals is what shines through the most.
To conclude the album, “Musik Kontrol (ACR vs. Massey)” has a build-up of a track from the 1980s. The punctuated spoken verses by building instrumentals is an interesting piece of production artistry. When the guitars are added, it seems like an entirely different song—something that is remarkable in of itself. The amount of key changes within the song brings forth a complex interest that places all of the talents to the fore. If there was any way to conclude a house EP, it would be one that goes out with guns blazing.
For how short ACR:EPC is, it has a remarkable payoff, allowing its listeners to celebrate the kaleidoscope of electronic music.