Artist: Stab Something
Title: Stab Something
Label: Dead Pixel Records
Keywords: Plunderphonics, Broken Beat Electronica, Hip Hop, Ambient, Experimental
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
Stab Something is a creative collab between artists Hrmnzr and Bye-Product. I’d been intending to review some of the latter artist’s Sirona-Records releases for a bit now, but just haven’t gotten around to it.
It can be difficult to review some of the more plunderous musicians in the free scene. In my opinion, some of this artist’s work is among the better representations of the style. Because it sounds good. But that’s sometimes the problem… where does the artist’s talent in sound begin and where does it end, being as the tracks so often are only mash-ups of other artists? I’ll leave these considerations for another day, though, and try to just enjoy the music for what it is.
First is ‘Blood Flow’, starting with a pizzicato string and then adding buzzing bass synth, melodic phasing ambient backgrounds and an electronic beat. Choirs come in dramatically when the percussion takes a hard turn. Very nice!
Second is ‘Leaf Dreams’, a lovely bit of electronic bliss and breakbeat. Vocal cuts and sharp edits give it a Prefuse 73 feel. Then there’s a drum breakdown that’s really great! The music is totally chill, but the drums add a lot of intensity. Perfection.
‘Flicker And Phase’ utilizes heavy edits, abstracting from ambient sound sources. There’s a piano that comes in, and later the groove begins to feel even more broken, severing and filling up small gaps with bass kicks.
Afterward is ‘Flawed Stereo Types’ with its rapid-fire beat samples. After a bit a very clownly chiptune synth lead comes in. There’s a filter-laden breakdown section followed by a pretty rad brokebeat. That synth, though… when it comes in, the track quickly seems to become happy hardcore.
‘Show And Tell’ is almost like IDM crapcore with lots of heavily clipped up hip hop vocals. The section that follows is actually kind of amazing, horns blaring, shimmering synth chaos with what sounds like a midi backing track.
‘New Age Party Rock’ uses an 808 and random samples to create a very odd groove. There are clips of what sound like midi-guitar. As time passes, some low-bass sawtooth chipwaves are added to the mix.
Nextly, we have ‘Pink Knives’, a beat and heavy phasing effects, then a very clean and plasticy acoustic guitar sample repeats. A break follows with a prowling groove; electric piano and a break. The track flits back and forth between two grooves, two radically different vibes.
‘French Love’ has really nice ambient sounds going on… I feel like I recognize some of the music being manipulated here, but can’t remember quite what it was. Oh well, for the most part it has been assimilated and manipulated and become something altogether else. A series of interconnected and frenetic electro-pop loops.
Then it’s time for ‘Sharpened Out’, a stuttering piano and touch of vocal upon which a sped-up jazzy beat is added. Then more vocal glitch weirdness! The pile of sounds have in places become so denatured that they become possessed of a partly alien familiarity.
‘Convection’, much like it’s namesake, is pretty hot. Rhythm and guitar manipulations, really pretty sounding. The basslines are very nice. This track is probably my favourite on the album so far. Eventually the breaks get more intense and vocals are added to the mix.
‘Styleize’ starts with some bumpin’ breaks, distorted and bitcrunchy bass synths… this is pretty intense! And kind of funky, in a weird sort of way… that’s later on, though. The vocal edits are all over the place.
‘My Universal (feat. Easy Girl)’ is a bit glitch hop, and it has a wackiness to it that’s hard to pin down. It’s partially in the vocals and sound structure, but mostly in the mixing… it feels like a ringing in your ears if you lay back and try not to focus on anything that’s going on. The only thing I heard the whole time I listened was “Scooby Doo”. That, ah… was a cartoon. I guess it still is, sort of. It’s had several incarnations over the years. There’s the dog, Scooby Doo, and Shaggy, his stoner pal. Then there’s Freddie, who’s kind of a prick, and Daphne. She’s supposed to be hot, but she’s a cartoon and not drawn very well. And… Thelma? Velma? Something like that. She’s the frontal lobe cerebral type of the group. Anyway, they go around in a van and solve mysteries. It’s an ok show, nothing spectacular. It’s one of those programs you might never willingly opt to watch except on a very boring Sunday or something, an hour after waking up and still in the clothes (if any) that you slept in… and you might not even be aware that you’re enjoying yourself, the simple pleasure of watching some mildly entertaining but mostly crap show in a moment of boredom, but years later you look back, reflect, and believe that really living life probably means cultivating several experiences of this nature.
The track that follows is ‘Hidden Memory’. It’s an excursion into beautiful ambient vocal drone loops! This track is quite nice, particularly when the synths come in. It’s like the falling of frost, or something. The rhythms are smooth and silky. The track is very seductive, you’ll want to take it to bed with you, make love to it on white satin sheets covered in roses. It really is that nice. Strings eventually rise up in the mix, making the rest of the track sound like it was just foreplay. This is some Marvin Gaye shit. Some Luther Vandross shit. Yeah, it’s just like that. You’ll be like, damn girl…
… in fact, ‘Curve Me, Bend Me’ sounds like what the title of the last track should have been, sexy as it was. Instead, this one’s all piano and electro beats. The wisps of vocals high on reverb were really nice, and then we’re treated to more broken vocal loops. The sound arrangements are really strange at times, very syncopated. The end of the track is really nice, with all the atmospherics that almost sound as though they were culled from some lost shoegaze record.
‘Blood Flow (Reprise)’ is nice, a reverberating piano and ambiance, the drums are a bit lower in the mix than in the first incarnation of the track though, but everything feels so much like drifting on an ocean I can hardly say it matters.
‘Exsanguination’ is a reverby sound clip with downtempo breaks, bizarre floating textures and an electro pulse bass. A lot of the melodies are really hypnotic and sweet.
Here, the various remixes begin. We start with the Nintyscreen remix of ‘Sharpened Out’ which sounds like high-speed jazz, then gets a bit clipped toward the middle to end. Kind of ho hum.
For some reason beyond me, I was unable to listen to the Kynes remix of ‘Curve Me, Bend Me’. Some kind of technical bug, the kind that allows you to listen to any other track on an album besides the one you’re wanting to hear at the moment. If this can be resolved somehow, I will update this small section with a review of the track. 😉
But now, another remix that I was looking forward to, ‘Hidden Memory (Astro Kid Vocal Remix)’… it adds an electro groove, several really cool edits and synthesizer leads and sounds and, damn, the title was not kidding about the vocals! I think they are a very nice touch, not in the least bit as cheese as they could have been in the wrong hands. This remix stands right now as my favourite thing on the whole album. You can tell that some amount of care was made in the construction of this thing.
‘Sharpened Out (Ernula X Cuilans Remix)’ almost sounds like some kind of ska a la midi.
The Cat Boss remix of ‘Show And Tell’ keeps a lot of the heavily clipped up vocal samples and adds cornball but lots of really fun synth leads and some happy 4/4 kicks. Then it goes off on another tangent and gets kind of hardcore serious for a second with rocking bass guitar sounding stuff and slowed down kicks. The melodies and how they are arranged and programmed is really awesome, I enjoyed it.
Mega Bunneh’s remix of ‘Flawed Stereo Types’ starts off with wind, or something like it, brings in a syncopated and punchy groove. This one’s all about the rhythm… though some of the cheezy synths that get thrown in kind of add an interesting touch. But the grooves are nice.
After that is the Ensoi remix of ‘Sharpened Out’, which is like, really fast jungle and vocal edits. There’s even an Amen break. I thought those things were becoming extinct, shows what I know!
Last, another remix I was looking forward to… Television Sky’s remix of ‘Hidden Memory’… which starts off with the jazz, sounds like someone playing a bari sax or something while a screwy breakbeat is going. Then some ambient sounds start to creep in, slow, but gaining sound momentum and eventually overtaking the whole mix. Highly textured, it’s frequencies hit all the pleasure points in your ear-drums.
All in all, I’d say this release was pretty cool. Lots of variety, definitely with the remixes, but throughout the whole album you find a lot of diversity in sound, no doubt due to the pillaging and pilfering nature of the artists. Get this at the link: