Send me your track


Vexkiddy - Pedantic Romantic

Human Shield


The last Vexkiddy album was released on Jason Forrest’s breakcore label Cock Rock Disco in 2008 and sat quite comfortably next to its labelmates. The new album wears a wholly different set of styles but appears no less at home amongst the denizens of Human Shield, the label run by italo synth fetishist Ali Renault. Though the pace has slowed, Pedantic Romantic has nonetheless inherited some of the frenetic schizophonia of its predecessor, exploring, in its choppy edits and razor-sharp switch-ups, an unexpected genetic commonality between breakcore/idm and freestyle electro. Opening track ‘Dear Boss’ sets the tone with its portamento synth squeals and DSP surgery clattering across a series of harmonic and tonal shifts, packing in a raft of ideas across a four minute microcosm that both foreshadows the rest of the album’s diversity whilst managing to retain a sense of stylistic integrity.

Broadly speaking, Pedantic picks up on a lineage of the sort of shiny, elastic synthwork that is an increasing presence in electronic music but one which only perennially breaks the surface of good taste. More of a tool than a genre per se, it’s a sound that is synonymous with a certain period around the turn of the 1980s when funk and RnB musicians, particularly Zapp, Prince, Rick James, et al, began to extract the sleaze from the synthesizer, stretching and warping its sounds into taut libidinal pulsations. Some recent artists, like Chromeo and Dâm Funk, have attempted to resurrect this spirit as faithfully as possible, with results that frequently struggle to live up to the pioneering force of their forebears. Others have followed this sound’s lineage through the electro and techno of the 80s and 90s, ultimately identifying either Egyptian Lover’s sordid mythos (Jimmy Edgar, whose cut and layered processing is recalled here) or the fluvial meanderings of Drexciya (Rephlex’s last five years) as the touchstone. It’s a terrain characterised by warm analogue sensuality that is increasingly perverted by the jittering sexual scalpel of digital processing techniques.

The album bears its strongest resemblance to the recent output of DMX Krew, who has seemingly staked his career on the fertile ground opened up by all these artists. This comes across not just through the mutating bassline and pentatonic twinkling of ‘Hype Machine’ and ‘Babystrange’ but most explicitly in the cheek-tongued hip house brit-rap of the latter track. But where Ed DMX’s sincerity, affection and knowledge shines through the playfulness, in Vexkiddy’s case he remains determinedly detached from the references, aloof even, reducing the track to pastiche rather than honest engagement. On the dishonestly-titled ‘My Name is Peter’, the artist is similarly blighted by his cringeworthy vocal sample. However, in practice this is a minor flaw: what Vexkiddy may lack in integrity, he more than makes up for with energy and inventiveness and both tracks undoubtedly stand up well in a live context, their questionable humour having more to offer the slightly less abstemious mind.

This energy is in fact Pedantic Romantic’s greatest strength. Unwilling to sit still for the duration of a track, genres flow fast and loose and references are recycled, re-edited and discarded – ‘Making Time With You’ reinterprets the sound at a halfstep pace, adding rave chords and hoovers that lend an almost painfully (but forgivably) contemporary gloss to proceedings. Rhythmically, the album is impressive: the programming is intricate but rarely domineering, duplets and triplets move across compound time like the work of some sort of polymetric renegade, and the whole thing is carried off with such flair that it’s easy to cast aside misgivings.

The final two tracks are a strange addition; the first is a Vexkiddy remix of Bristol band OLO Worms and the second, a digital exclusive, is a Ghettoscraper mix of a Vexkiddy track. Both are more muted and industrial affairs that sit awkwardly and incongruously at the end of an otherwise cogent and intoxicating half an hour.


Toby Bennett


Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« Nyra - Best of Ep | Main | Photonz - Love Spectre »