Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Feature: Taylor

A Long form feature from my features portfolio, discussing the IDM genre via an interview with artist Taylor.

A dark club. The floor is sticky. Sweat seems to be dripping not just from the mass of twisting dancers, but also the ceiling. The crowd consists of mainly 18 to 30 year olds, all at different levels of intoxication. The beer is warm. At the front a DJ is playing a solid, pounding dance rhythm that organically mutates between major and minor, up-tempo and down, sparse and rich textures. The audience may be dancing in much the same way that it has since the dawn of acid house in the late ‘80s, but something is different. These people are not just moving mindlessly in time to the insistent beat, they are listening. Audio Addict wants to know why…
The heightened level of appreciation is down to the fact that this night is a good example of the rebirth (some may say progression) of Intelligent Dance Music (IDM). Its promoter, the Nottingham-based label Wigflex, is unashamedly paying tribute to the mid ‘90s peak of artists such as The Aphex Twin, LFO, The Future Sound of London etc, and the Warp label to which many of these artists belong. The influence of Warp, who are also believed to have coined the IDM idiom, is strong. The Wigflex collective specialise in twisted, angular electronica that is also at the cutting edge of its scene, incorporating the popular styles of dubstep and drum and bass alongside their more challenging productions.
24-year-old DJ/producer Adam Taylor (AKA Taylor) is a leading figure on the label. His appearances on Wigflex compilations (his own release will appear soon) have always been a highlight. Nottingham-bred, Manchester-based, he produces a distinct brand of complex techno that is designed equally for club and home listening. Taylor’s skill lies largely in his ability to produce complex and harmonically developed music within a genre so reliant on repetition and four-to-the-floor rhythms.

Musical life for Taylor began with the guitar, playing classical from a young age. Becoming more creative with the instrument in his teens he formed a post-rock group, Ad Infinitum, and set about writing epic instrumentals with intricate time signatures and mutating melodic passages. This aspect of his song-writing is present in his current guise as a producer of….well…what genre is it?
“I’ve had a few terms flung my way. Electronica, IDM [Intelligent Dance Music], Melodic Techno, Maximal, TekHaus, call it what you will, my music’s generally got a beat at the core, with colourful melodies and effects”, he says.
It’s that compromise of simplicity and technical complexity that gives Taylor the edge in his field. Is he looking to use some of his past post-rock influences in this way for future projects?
“Much of the electronic music I hear – though the groove and rhythm patterns can be quite diverse – is based around a neat 4/4 beat, which fits dance music sensibilities”, he explains. “I’ve moved away from that with some of my productions. The new project I’m working on – as well as some 4/4 patterns – includes different time signatures, from 3/4 to 7/8. What would you call that?! MathTek?”
The Wigflex camp contains such respected artists as Geiom, Metaphi, and Hizatron. They form a hive of creativity that influences not just their listeners, but also each other. Being part of such an innovative label must have its advantages in terms of staying on top of this ever-mutating genre?
“I owe a great deal of my creative development to this collective”, enthuses Taylor. “I am very excited about everything I’m hearing coming out of Wigflex, but I would say that! The boys are on fire! It’s gathering momentum, we now boast a club night and clothing line too.”

Taylor’s natural enthusiasm for his craft is obvious. A calmly spoken individual with a warm smile, he appears very keen for us to understand every aspect of his music. This includes his production methods, which are based around the powerful Logic Pro software.
“Everything I produce is based around that environment,” he explains. “I’m always on the hunt for new sounds. I’ve got tons of old chip samples, great for glitch noises. I’m also keen to get into field recording for more ambient textures and unusual samples”.
Squeege, his contribution to the latest Wigflex release, is a six minute-plus mutating techno epic. It shows off the young producer’s lack of inhibition regarding the ‘rules’ of song construction, and demonstrates his ability to weave intricate melodic passages in to solid rhythms. The bell-like synths and rhythmic bleeps put us in mind of a more up-tempo ISAN, or perhaps a less aggressive Mouse On Mars. Despite any noticeable hook, Squeege is instantly memorable, and even the briefest of listens through Taylor’s previous material proves that this is not a one-off.

Outside of the Wigflex stable, Taylor is reluctant to be pigeonholed when it comes to discussing his other influences. He mentions a few Warp-based acts, before enthusing about afro-beat king Fela Kuti, and neo-classicists Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff.
“On the whole I don’t appreciate that much dance music. Often it’s way too functional, though there are some gems in there,” he tells us. “My favourite stuff takes plenty of cues from various forms of music and forges a unique blend of styles, not solely a dance music thing.” Does this indicate disenchantment with the genre? “Electronic music embraces new technologies, which develops sounds and styles. There isn’t a best practice for making it, but preference instead. Definitely a good thing,” he reassures us.
Intelligent Dance Music doesn’t necessarily require intelligence to enjoy it, but it is a step in the right direction in terms of development for what can be a fairly restrictive genre. Artists such as Taylor are keeping electronic music moving forward, testing what is possible and pushing accepted boundaries to form new and interesting sub-genres. He leaves us with a warm goodbye, thanking us for our time. As he walks away, Audio Addict suddenly feels safer about the future of dance music.

Wigflex 003, featuring Taylor’s ‘Squeege’, will be released on November 21st

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