Foul-Up definitely earned its name in a positive way. Since the labels inception two years ago, the Berlin-based imprint released music that seems to exist in its own stylistic mash, equally bringing to mind hints of bass music, techno, noise or various fringes of experimental sounds. As Foul-Up decided from the start to consider errors and mismatches as a part of the music-writing process, its output always had a distinct looseness to its beats and structures, that actually fosters the creativity of its artists.
In that sense, Glass Knot’s debut album Present Tense appears as a perfect illustration of that process. Glass Knot is the new collaborative project of Foul-Up’s founder Misantrop and Metalized Man, who released his first album through the label early last year. The pair built the seven pieces of the record assembling bits and sounds in live studio sessions using different pieces of hardware gear. The essence of Foul-Up seems to lie in these compositions where opposing directions end up meeting, with dissonant sounds clashing to create a flux of sound and energy that seems to evolve following its own will.
Take “Present Tense 1” – here, a piercing, whistling synth opens the record in a menacing tone, contrasting with layers of sounds that instil more of an introspective vibe. The whole structure is laid upon a jolting breakbeat that equally takes cues from a more complex techno rhythm. Following this introduction, the second track treats us with live droning sounds and a collation of bruises and machine noises reminiscent of the mid-00s New York drone scene, while the third track sounds like weird hip hop captured through the pale signal of a space radio.
Present Tense thus evidences how creative its two authors are, as well as their ability to work in conflicting directions. It also shows that they are able to bring these conflicting sounds together to create their own flow with a very distinct touch, giving the album its unity. Pounding techno drums, waves of saturations and ravey whistles can all be found in the latter half of the record, yet whilst colliding, they all unite within the duo’s own way of treating sounds, which models each of these elements to take part in a stream of energy that ultimately makes sense on its own.
In the end, Present Tense alludes to a certain post-punk ethos of experimentation, DIY, using repetition and looking beyond boundaries, rather than to any specific sphere of electronic music. More than anything though, it appears as the perfect representation of what made Foul-Up’s name so appropriate – creating great music through contrast and confusion.
Released September 14, 2018