123mrk – refined madness ep

123Mrk - Refined Madness EP coverSo summer finally arrived in NL, which means last week was filled with long evenings either on a café terrace or at backyard BBQs. It also meant shorts, shirts, clean kicks and not-sitting-behind-the computer-writing-posts. So to get back in the vibe I picked this little nifty 123Mrk EP called “Refined Madness”, which was released late january of this year.

 

The sophmore release of the Marseille based artist is based around soft grainy padlike synths, twist-pitched vocals and superfunky slowed-down 2step drumsequences. So yeah, called it a blend between Future Garage and Post-Dubstep seems suitable, but doesn’t really cut it.

The EP contains three original tracks and two remixes by Borussia and Kastle, which fit nicely since the original tracks all have the same basis and the remixes keep from over-saturating that sound.

 

The opening track Untroubled sets the tone, showcasing the 3 aforementioned elements drop-dead in the intro. A melancholic melody is quickly joined by the twisted vocal, over a layer of shuffling percussion. After this introduction the synth amazingly turns into a sound that usually heard in more tech-house based records, but fits the staccato 2-step beat perfectly. Most of the combined action actually takes place in the breaks where the kickdrum has been dropped, making the minimalistic follow-up feel ten times as deep.

 

Next up is Weird, which puts accolades to it’s name by another sweet but strangely tracking opening synth. It opens a lot quicker than Untroubled but also feels a little tech reminiscent, albeit with a more uptempo garage vibe. Although the warped vocal returns pretty quick it still is a nice addition to the track, being more part of the percussion groove than a melodic element.

 

Just when you’re thinking ‘Ok so now we know trick, don’t let this get boring’, Thrill kicks in with the exact same elements but somehow still feels different than the previous 2 tracks. Somehow it doesn’t matter that the same build-up is being used: the variations are are plenty and 123Mrk seems to know exactly when to switch elements, time his breaks and when to get to the outro.

 

When we get to the Borussia remix of Weird the first you need to do is turn up the volume because somehow someone decided to cut the volume on it. Which is a shame because this version turns the song into a dystopian angsty landscape, filled with sweeping detuned synths and a staggering drumcomputer groove. A welcome change after the soothing original. Kastle’s take on the song is more dancefloor oriented, keeping the beat steady throughout the song and simplifying the composition in more ready-to-eat chunks that are often reminiscent of oldschool rave and breakbeat breakdowns. Add a little future-funk lead synth and you’re done.

 

With “Refined Madness”, Squelch & Clap dropped a nice versatile EP. The original tracks are soothing and groovy, and the remixes are dancefloor ready. Get the digital release for £3,50 on Boomkat or EUR 5,10 on Juno. Facebook here and twitter here, clips below.