Vertical Tones & Horizontal Noise

Posted by Mike Battaglia, April 5, 2007 01:25pm | Post a Comment

Andrew Meecham is The Emperor Machine, one of the best producers working in electronic music at the moment. A soundclash between influences as diverse as Can, early Human League, Hawkwind, George Clinton and Kraftwerk, Meecham's Krautrock-Disco bubbles and squeaks with analogue rock intensity while remaning funky enough to get your groove on.

Meecham started out in seminal 90's house/rave group Bizarre Inc. alongside Carl Tuner and Dean Meredith. They had a string of hits including "Playing With Knives" and "I'm Gonna Get You", both of which charted in the UK (the former hit #3, the latter #4) as well as the US (#47), and both are considered "club classics".

"Playing With Knives":

"I'm Gonna Get You" (one of my personal favorites):

After their second album, 1996's Surprise, was commercially disappointing, Bizarre Inc. disappeared until 1999, when Meredith and Meecham resurfaced with Steve "Fella" Kotey as Chicken Lips. Since then, it's been full steam ahead, with the boys finding a home at DC Recordings (scheduled to have its own Technophilia post anytime soon) as Big Two Hundred, aka "the dark side of Chicken Lips", and two side projects: Meredith as White Light Circus and Meecham as TEM.

Vertical Tones and Horizontal Noise is the second Emperor Machine album, although technically it's a collection of music previously released as 12" singles, according to Meecham, who is already working the "proper" second EM album. There were six records in all, released in pairs, with amazing cover art from the ever-dependable La Boca.

Visuals aside, the music is infectious. Live drums keep metronomic time, sinewave melodies gurgle and belch and syncopated basslines move each song forward. Meecham works dynamics to their full potential giving the disco swing a proper beginning, middle and end, in some cases using the Krautrock staple motorik beat to hypnotic effect.

In addition to a slew of killer singles, Meecham has been busy remixing everyone from Moby and Röyksopp to Stephen Malkmus and The Knife, which might be his best remix effort to date: Meecham takes the vocal from the Swedish duo's "Marble House" and lays a sick slo-mo disco backbeat underneath it, all while perserving the electro edge of the original. A random person on a message board I read regularly declared it the "best remix EVER" and while I don't know about that, it sure is damn good.

All six 12" volumes of the Vertical Tones series are still available, as is the CD that compiles them all in one convenient place with a few extras. Search and destroy!

Relevant Tags

Fusion (3), Synthesizers (7), House (44), Disco (43), Emperor Machine (2), Dc Recordings (1), Chicken Lips (1), Bizarre Inc (1), Andrew Meecham (1), Dean Meredith (1), Steve Kotey (1), Bearfunk (1), White Light Circus (1), Big Two Hundred (1), Krautrock (12), Analog (3), Analogue (1), Rave Classics (1), Rave (5)