There has been a noticeable increase in the amount of experimental, improvised and left field music being created in York. This surge of contemporary creativity has been spearheaded by the creation of two adventurous live music promotions Spread and Wonkystuff. The latter is led by Ash Sagar and John Tuffen who also perform under the rather descriptive moniker ElectroBattlingDroids.
As well as organising live events, Wonkystuff release music online and on that favoured format of niche market genres, the cassette. Wonkystuff #10 features one piece by ElectroBattlingDroids which begins with a distant bleeping, evoking images of hospital equipment heard from a shallow sleep. As understated drones creep across you and slither in to your ears, electronic percussion forms a hypnotic rhythm, sounding like a futuristic tennis game played on a desolate planet.
When the development of a soundscape is intentionally slow, subtle change can prick the ears. Emerging from the bass heavy landscape, electronic hi-hats contain a world of audible colour. Vicious sound waves begin to swipe at one another, cutting through the crisp electronic ether. As the dominant sound wave breaks in to two parts, it develops a conversational quality. Slight variations in wave tones begin to overlap. The two voices cut in on each other’s abruptly made points.
Subtle beats form a steady foundation for the hurried movement taking place above ground, like a sturdy bridge which traffic shoots across in all directions. ElectroBattlingDroids deliver you to new sound worlds with the efficiency of a Japanese train. The journey is so smooth that you’re not aware that you are moving at all.
The pieces of the musical jigsaw are not all cragged and challenging to place. Moments of grooving electronica show an awareness of mainstream dance music which the duo are not afraid to incorporate. A particularly engaging shuffle rhythm is interrupted by an alarm sound which reduces the burning groove to a flickering electronic ember. As the flame slowly smokes its way in to oblivion, the journey is complete. It has been a journey through the baron landscapes of the countryside and the frantic bustle of the city, all enjoyed from the comfort of first class travel.