After a particularly quiet year, D-Force Records are back quickly after the release of their first record in 2017, Goooose’s They, this time with Shanghai Electro-Funkers, 33EMYBW and their first record proper, Medusa.
Don’t let the name put you off, if you think this is just another record by Chinese students that spent too much time thinking of the universe when they were at art college, then you may certainly be right.
Self-described as Electro-Funk, I feel a bit salty as to this designation. Funk normally means something to me, and this doesn’t feel so much like funk as a deconstruction of electronic melodies.
While a previous demo called 哈哈乱撞 is fun and more listenably upbeat, Medusa is an album made with stark atmosphere, the kind of pungency that irradiates the music of producers like Burial and DJ Shadow. 33EMYBW are on the darker side of the road, however, as their sound threatens drones and industry, as signifier for the dystopia in their imagination.
The first track off the three piece suite, Medusa, is bubbly and volatile. In the offing, behind the wall of distracting and fast paced synthesised pops, remains a lot of space, and one could imagine the music being set in a warehouse basin.
Assuredly the band are good with formatting space and minimalism, so that their records seem to say nothing and something at the same time, but not only is there no perceptible euphoria, high or hook involved, nor do 33EMYBW ever threaten to even begin building one.
There is something to be said for formalism, for building an idea instead of a feeling, and that is the way 33EMYBW strike the listener. Whereas label mates Duck Fight Goose participate in similar cerebral reckoning, 33EMYBW are not quite as capable with injecting fun and enjoyment, or even strong emotion in their tracks quite yet.
While Medusa is a strong listen, an interesting voyage through the underground pipes of some space age factory, it lacks a sense of urgency, the kind of urgency that warrants another listen.