Debut longplayer from London producer Kamixlo serves up machine-wrought thumpers with a side of wobble and plenty of weirdness, finds Will Ainsley

If an album comes along that skirts around the structural boilerplate that a lot of electronic artists unconsciously or consciously adhere to then it’s probably worth a listen. Kamixlo’s new LP is one of those albums. Cicatriz is a collection of machine-wrought thumpers all polluted and befouled with monolithic kick drums and monstrously pitch-shifted vocals.

With traces of shaabi and krautrock, the album bounces between mesmeric grooves and dynamic structural feints and shifts. ‘Destruction’ initially seems like Kamixlo’s twisted take on a dub-techno track, full of wobble bass and with percussion from the same dungeon The Bug gets his from. Three minutes in, however, it gives way to a noisy dark ambient section that stands at odds with the tightly-wrought rhythms of the first half. ‘The Coldest Hello (Live From The Russian Spiral) feels like one long crescendo that starts off with an innocuous-sounding vocal sample before building towards a peak then falls away into a blitzed-out wash of reverb. These dynamic structural choices, not favouring a ‘drop’, or having a chorus, mean the tracks feel democratic.

Although this isn’t shaabi in any direct sense, there are still moments reminiscent of Islam Chipsy’s music such as the atonal melodies in ‘Azucar (Feat. Woesum), the rolling toms in ‘Poison’, and the warped, bucking kick drums that stretch throughout. Similarly, although the content is vastly different, the delivery of ‘The Burning Hammer Drop’, ‘DKD Lethal’, and ‘Sick’ are all reminiscent of Kosmiche Musik like Can or Amon Düül II. There’s a focus on timbre, groove, and arrangement rather than discernible harmony and melody.

Despite their giant, hulking quality, the tracks achieve a lot with fairly little. The noisy, dark ambient pad sounds that Kamixlo deftly weaves around the sparse base instrumentation, often only consisting of a few choice percussion and pad sounds, means it transcends the sum of its parts. ‘Sick’ does this with little more than an impish synth sound, some brute drum machine samples, and a chewy 303 bass sound.

Although Cicatriz is often enjoyably confrontational, the most interesting moments are where this aggression is disturbed. ‘Untitled’ is a welcome surprise. It sounds like a recording of a church organ playing some kind of wedding march but filtered through a crap radio. The chords are beautiful, sounding a bit like Stars Of The Lid getting into hauntology. I also love the nervy, trance-y buoyancy of ‘Demonic Y (Feat. Felix Lee)’; it seems almost sweet surrounded by the gnarled grandeur of the other tracks.

I tweeted something the other day half-joking about how I was writing about electronic music and so “must remember to call them ‘tracks’ and not ‘songs’”, but ironically I think this album might have been improved with a few vocalists. It might even be good to hear Kamixlo do something in the same vein of K.O., The Bug’s superb collaboration with Miss Red, a project completely focused around one vocalist. Despite this, Kamixlo’s sonic barrage is onto a winning formula. Cicatriz simply revels in its own eldritch weirdness.

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