Brace yourselves, Moscow-based musical technician Maguett has been tricking about with a PowerMac between lectures and is about to unleash 'a brand new monument called IBM : Intelligent Bass Music' upon us.
Unfortunately, it really is that bad. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, there are parts of the record that are good, and parts of the record that are original. Unfortunately, the original bits are not good, and the good bits are not original. Actually, even that is over-generous. There are no original parts. Even the accompanying verbal nonsense that comes with the EP is confused, showing a lack of sensitivity to source material which typifies the sound of the record:
'Fed with 90s Warp records, Rephlex IDM and Solid Steel radio shows…[Maguett's] music definitely appeals to something old, almost out of time, cementing IDM foundations with newer bass music elements in a brand new monument called IBM : Intelligent Bass Music'.
there are parts of the record that are good, and parts of the record that are original. Unfortunately, the original bits are not good, and the good bits are not original
Influenced by 90s Warp records and Solid Steel radio shows? The same Solid Steel radio shows that were essentially a promotional platform for early NinjaTune releases? NinjaTune and Warp? Pick one or the other, Maguett! Flinging both into the soup of flaccid loops and beatwash that makes up 'Twilight' is an exercise in insensitive point-missing. A generation of bass-heads recoils at the very idea of mixing the two now-venerable labels. Aphex Twin or Amon Tobin; Nightmares on Wax or Cinematic Orchestra; Autechre or Bonobo; Sheffield or London; North or South; funk beats or jazz loops. You might like both, but you don't mix them.
plodding basslines whose only claim to the title 'bass music' (intelligent or otherwise), is that they a played an octave lower than the songs would generally demand
Maguett does though, and the result is, predictably, less than the sum of its parts. The notion of 'Intelligent Bass Music', queasy as it is, does at least suggest that amongst other aspects of songwriting dexterity we may expect to hear an original infrastructure to the tunes: be it via the evolution of beats, or the narrative of the melodic topline, or perhaps through some experimentation with the tension/drop structure of dance music as it already exists in such mountainous surplus. Instead, we get loops, vocal samples and plodding basslines whose only claim to the title 'bass music' (intelligent or otherwise), is that they a played an octave lower than the songs would generally demand.
'Isaan' sounds suspiciously like Tokimonsta's 'Stigmatising Sex' (itself not exactly the strongest song in the NinjaTune catalogue), whilst 'Blade' tries desperately to merge the groove of Nightmares on Wax's 'Me+You' with the keyboard motif of the same album's 'Stars'. Unfortunately Maguett does so with a bassline flabbier than anything Chris Dawkins would have let out of the mixing room, beats that display nothing of George Evelyn's gift for earworm rhythms and utterly lacking in the flashes of keyboard dexterity that Robin Taylor-Firth brings to NoW's melodic tunes. There are four other tracks on the Maguett EP, but those lack even the human interest aspect of flagrant plagiarism. They are simply dull.
Where Maguett fails is in the arrogance of amateurism
Where Maguett fails is in the arrogance of amateurism, of believing that simply because 'Intelligent Dance Music' sounds simple, that it must therefore be simple to make. And whilst laid back, downtempo, loops 'n' samples, throbbing bassline music is as easy to put together as Lego, it is for that very reason that making it well so close to impossible. Anyone can put together sounds, putting together the spaces though, that's the hard part. It isn't, despite what Maguett might think, a process of science or engineering. It is a process of musicality, of discipline and of that ever-elusive creative vision. Maguett does not have that vision. Happily, the press release informs us that he has a backup plan:
studying architecture gives Maguett the power to erect dreamy tracks like an antediluvian builder, putting together pieces of thoughts with a meticulous wisdom
Let's hope his buildings have more backbone than his tunes.
On Alpha Pup records.