Review: Num.Lock – ##1 Versions

A3002 ArtworkThe cover of ##1 Versions is a paper-shredded version of the original EP artwork, which is all the context I need to understand the first remix here. George McVicar’s iteration of “gUZU” feeds the music into a fan blade. Loops of digital ventilation become pops of pressure release, chopped into semi-automatic plosives and percussive palpitation. The atmosphere of the original EP – which is like the din of a gigantic factory space, with all its beeping machinery and reverberant hydraulics, compressed into the size of a toilet cubicle – is still present, albeit in pellets of soot and screw. Both remixes and originals are coated with the residue of amplified industry, which maintains the most explicit line of connection during even the most dramatic stylistic overturns (for instance, West Norwood Cassette Library’s metronomic techno congealment of the beatless smog of “AYac”).

Yet as I listen deeper, the original Num.Lock versions start to feel like the antonymic netherworld to their club-ready remix counterparts; collages of electronic immateria and Geiger-counted frequency, wielding the unseen energy that flows and ripples across the dancefloor. Airsilk builds a dirty rhythmic loop out of “uSXY”, alternating between dangerous stalls and sudden surges of revival, finding regularity and momentum in its closing stages. The original piece feels like a negative exposure of its own remix, removing the mechanistic grind and working exclusively with those vapours of acoustic ricochet, or the wayward radiation that fizzes off of the machine circuits, or the dust that dances as vibration surges through it. In a strange, time-meddling paradox, I start to perceive Num.Lock’s initial pieces as treatments of the very remixes to which they play origin.