There are times when Unruly Top hits an impasse. I’m thinking of the latter half of “Funk Table”, which is a gradual haemorrhaging of energy and rhythmic flair – running the groove flat through repetition, until those semi-automatic handclaps and blistered synth chords seem to persist because they can’t muster the energy to disappear. The track ends up feeling like some wretched, hydraulically enacted Morse code of overdriven drum sample stop-starts. Yet that’s the whole point; the record is all about finding those dead ends and smashing its head against them, pulping itself through the denial of progress. That’s why all of these sounds (the mangled cyborg voices, the Casio percussion samples) come crusted in distortion. They reach peak volume and then keep pushing, crushing themselves against the hard limits of stereo. Self-mutilation over compromise.
There’s the sense that Unruly Top started life as a techno record. It’s a suspicion that renders itself evident in those monotone bass lines and synth squelches, and how the bass drum sucks as the mix like a sickness. Yet the form is all wrong. The beats don’t land where they should. On “Square Night Time Strength Nausea”, hi-hats shuffle between the echoes of slammed doors, while laser beams stream through any gaps that remain. On “Chatty Reptile” the bass drum is a syncopated mess, numbing me internally as it raps against my stomach, supporting a synth melody that jerks with the scarring of digital corruption. It is ambition that dislodges Unruly Top from its origins in dance music uniformity. Yet this same ambition also drives the record against those more stubborn surfaces of sonic constraint. Some of them give way. Some of them leave Loose-y Crunchè worse for wear.