It feels strange to be saying that we’re almost halfway through 2018. January, it seems, rolled into march and leap frogged April to bring us to the middle of May. And so, what started as a focus on a label that produced two stand out EP’s at the beginning of this year becomes a look at two of my favourite tracks of 2018 so far. Conveniently they both come from two great EP’s out of the same record label.
The difficult to pronounce, not always easy to listen to, but consistently intriguing Berceuse Heroique are a pretty prolific genre spanning label. Over the last five years they’ve put out everything from a highly sought-after dubstep Loefah rarity, to a globe-trotting disco edit series, late night EP’s and experimental, abstract long play records. Across the 50 or so releases they’ve put out there is an expanse of material to delve into.
Prolific Bristol-based producer Hodge, like most of us, seemed to be taking a breath in January and following the emerging trend of the UK’s top crop of young techno producers releasing something a bit less club-ready and a bit more abstract. On the EP the best example of this is the B1 ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’. Loosely labelled as techno, the track pairs light but incessant percussion with slightly unmelodic string work. And it’s the strings that characterise the song and make it so striking. ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’ is very reminiscent of Arthur Russell and the way he used his off-kilter cello, fast rhythms and euphoric melodies to infectious effect. Russell has been championed by many DJ’s in recent years and it’s nice to see this now reflected in Hodge’s production.
On the other hand, Black Merlin’s ‘Archives’, as an EP, covers a lot of ground. The release could probably be best characterised by its long, late-night-centric tracks and a polarising mixture of the darkest and lightest, most euphoric ends of the spectrum. It’s an easy choice but ‘The Alpaca Pet Boys’, apart from being sensationally named, is the EP (/mini LP’s) crescendoing climax before the credits roll with the final, ambient track ‘Laz’. It’s a stunning, escapist, peak time, builder that was recently done complete justice by Hunee in his Seoul Boiler Room, pitched up and sandwiched between some italo disco and latter heavier endeavours.
Despite singling out individual tracks on both EP’s they work brilliantly as complete releases and although both are sold out in most record shops have largely been overlooked by anyone looking to make a quick buck on Discogs. January was a great month for Berceuse Heroique and let’s hope the elusive, slightly enigmatic label doesn’t leave us waiting too much longer for their next release.