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Review - Secondo - A Matter of Scale

Secondo - A Matter of Scale (Soul Jazz)

Sampling and re-working records almost seems like old hat now. The idea of digitally realised collages drawn up from other music isn’t a new game at all, when you consider that DJ Shadow’s magnum opus Endtroducing set the standard by which all others may be judged by, and in dance music the work of Akufen stands out. Radovan Scasascia, who also records as AM/PM,  has been making music under his Secondo imprint since 2000, taking slivers of samples from and slowly but surely shifting them away from their original rhythmic and dynamic axis. At times the samples themselves are almost atomised as if the whole structure is deconstructed and rebuilt meticulously again. This is sampling, but carried out at a microscopic level with no trace left of the original music.

“A Matter of Scale” jumps between reflexive dancefloor atmospheres and shuffling downtempo tracks with no real sense of continuity. It’s ultimately somewhat quixotic, which I feel may be Scasascia’s intention, but lacks an individualist element to shape them together into something approaching a proper album. Virtually all the tracks are built on clusters of samples that change slowly but surely over time and then layered over analogue-sounding rhythms. The influence of Thomas Brinkmann and Scott Herren is perhaps most apparent - especially in the Soulcenter-esque funk of “Kuwait”, which bubbles with excitement as stuttering samples fall over themselves to be heard over a raw bassline, and to my ears the likes of “Quantum Lady” and “Wait For It to Come” recall Prefuse 73’s earlier material. “Burns Me Up” is the standout track by some distance, as glacial-sounding samples chatter over the top of crisp 808 house tempo beats.

There are plenty of ideas and sounds lacing the album, but for me, it never really comes together, as most of the tracks are over by the time their energy matures into something cohesive. Writing this I feel somewhat ambivalent about inflecting the review with negativity because Scasascia obviously has plenty of ideas that he will continue to formulate, but the overall feeling of “A Matter of Scale” is that it sounds like a work in process rather than a finished product. Without doubt a lot of craft is in the process of making these tracks, but somewhere along the line this has obfuscated the music.

Secondo Myspace

Toby Frith

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