Monday, August 26, 2019

Terror Danjah - interview + liner note

concerned by the alarming news that grime legend Terror Danjah is in a coma - wishing him a swift and complete recovery

below  is the liner note tribute I wrote for the Terror compilation Gremlinz that Planet Mu did in 2008, plus a Q and A that appeared on Gremlinz in shorter form, but here takes the expanded form published by FACT magazine and timed for the comp's release

but here is his new album


By Simon Reynolds

Ninety-five percent of grime beats are strictly functional: they're designed as launching pads for an MC's skills rather than as showcases for the producer's virtuosity.  These tracks don't tend to go through a lot of shifts and changes but instead loop a drum pattern and a refrain (typically evoking an atmosphere that mingles menace and majesty, with melody and "orchestration" pitched somewhere between a straight-to-video movie score and a ring-tone).  And that's fine, you know: it's a perfectly valid and valuable craft making this kind of basic MC tool.  It's okay if the tune doesn't go anywhere, because the pirate deejay's only likely to drop a minute-and-a-half before cutting to the next track.  It's alright if it's  thinly textured, a bit 2-D and cheapo-sounding, because  it's going to be largely drowned out by MCs jostling for their turn to spit sixteen bars.  But it stands to reason that few of these tracks are going to be things you'd want to buy and listen to at home.   They're just not built for that purpose.

Out of the handful of grime producers who've made some beats that work as stand-alone aesthetic objects--Wiley, Target, Wonder, Rapid from Ruff Sqwad--the undoubted ruler is Terror Danjah.  But this 29 year old from East London is not just grime's most accomplished and inventive producer.  He's one of the great electronic musicians to emerge in the first decade of the 21st Century, a figure as crucial and influential as Ricardo Villalobos or Digital Mystikz. Someone who's kept on flying the flag for futurism at a time when recombinant pastiche and retro-eclecticism have taken over post-rave music just like what happened with alternative rock a couple of decades before.

Like earlier artcore heroes such as 4 Hero and Foul Play (in jungle) or Dem 2 and Groove Chronicles (in 2step garage), Terror Danjah knows how to walk that perfect diagonal between function and form, how to maintain a tightrope balance between rocking the crowd and pushing the envelope.  He has made plenty of MC tools, tracks like his "Creepy Crawler" remix of "Frontline" or "Cock Back" that have become standard beats of the season on the grime scene, enabling MCs he's never met, on pirate shows he's never heard, to show off and sharpen their skills. Terror has also crafted beats tailor-made to a specific MC's talents, like "Haunted" (the instrumental for Trim's classic "Boogeyman") or "Reloadz", whose speeding-up and slowing-down-again rhythm is a perfect vehicle for Durrty Goodz's quick-time style.  (That track is also a kind of living history lesson, cutting back forth between grime's stomping swagger and jungle's breakneck breakbeat sprint, between 2008 and 1994.)

But on this all-instrumental anthology, with the pungent charisma of MCs like Bruza or D Double E removed from the picture, you can really hear all the work that Terror Danjah puts into his tunes.  On tracks like "Code Morse" and "Radar," the intricate syncopations and hyper-spatialised production, the feel for textural contrast and attention to detail, are comparable to German minimal techno producers like Isolee.  But all this sound-sculpting finesse is marshaled in service of a gloweringly intense mood--foreboding and feral-- that is pure grime.   This is artcore: a stunning blend of intellect and intimidation, subtlety and savagery.  Street modernism, in full effect.

Gremlinz is named after Terror Danjah's trademark:  the grotesquely distorted, gloating laughter that makes an appearance in all his tracks, a poisonous  giggle that makes you think of a golem, some horrid little homunculus that  Terror's hatched to do his bidding.  The gremlin audio-logo crystallizes the essence of Terror Danjah's work and of the London hardcore continuum of which he's such an illustrious scion. It's at once technical (the product of skilful sonic processing) and visceral,  funny and creepy.  Like the catchphrases and vocal-noise gimmicks that MCs drop into their sets or tracks (think D Double E's famous "it's mwee mwee" signal), the cackling gremlin announces that this here is a TERROR DANJAH  production you're listening to.  When a pirate deejay drops one of his tunes, when a crowd in a club hollers for a reload, that slimy little goblin is Terror marking his sonic territory like the top dog, the alpha producer, he is.

Q/A with Terror Danjah

You started out in the late Nineties with Reckless Crew, an East London jungle/drum'n'bass collective of deejays and MCs. How did that come about?
I formed Reckless in 1998. The other members were D Double E, Bruza, Hyper, Funsta, Triple Threat, DJ Interlude and Mayhem. We came to fame from being on Rinse Fm and playing at local clubs and raves including One Nation, Telepathy, World Dance, Garage Nation, and Slammin' Vinyl.

What did you learn, as a producer, from those drum and bass days? Who did you rate at that time and would consider an influence?
I wasn't much of a producer back in them days. I was absorbing the musical sounds from Roni Size, Dillinja, Shy FX, Krust, DJ Die, Bad Company, Andy C and DJ SS. I learned a lot from listening to their music. Jungle was the first British music we could say was ours. I'd grown upon on reggae, R&B, soul. And also house music, on account of having an older brother. I was deejaying on the pirates and I got into producing drum and bass, because I wasn't getting a lot of tunes from producers. They'd be giving me one or two dubplates, but they had the big DJs like Brockie to service first. So I started making my own  "specials" and did loads of tracks. But I didn't put them out, just played them on the radio. My own personal sound.  But DJ Zinc and a few others cut my tunes as dubplates.

When did you make the transition to UK garage and that MC-fronted 2step sound that was the prototype for grime?

 I did two garage tunes and they blew up so I decided to stick with that. In 2002 I did "Firecracker" b/w "Highly Inflammable" on Solid City, Teebone's label.  For a while I was part of N.A.S.T.Y. Crew,  because I'd been at St. Bonaventures [a  Roman Catholic comprehensive school in Forest Gate, London E7] with a couple of members of N.A.S.T.Y.  But all the time I was doing my own thing and eventually just branched off. 

Then in 2003 I formed Aftershock with this guy called Flash, who I'd met at Music House where everyone goes to cut dubplates.  The first two Aftershock releases were Crazy Titch's "I Can C  U, U Can C Me" and N.A.S.T.Y.'s  "Cock Back".  That got the label off to a flying start--everyone was buzzing after those two releases.  Then it was Big E.D.'s "Frontline" and then in 2004 I put out the Industry Standard EP. That’s the one where people thought "this label is serious".

Industry Standard is where you can really hear your three-dimensional "headphone grime" sound coming through, on tunes like "Juggling" and "Sneak Attack".  With those tracks and all through your  music, the placement of the beats, the way sounds move around each other in the mix--it's very spatial.

Some of that comes from listening to a lot of Roni Size and Andy C and producers like that. Lots of abstracty sounds rushing about, coming out of nowhere.  There's a sense of more life in the music.  That’s what I do in my tunes. Drum and bass gave me ideas about layering sounds and placing sounds. But it also comes from studying music engineering at college, doing a sound recording course.  I learned about mic'ing a drum kit and panning.  You've got the pan positions in the middle of your mixing desk, and the crash should be left or right, the snares should be slightly panned off centre, the kick should be in the center. So you've got a panoramic view of your drum structure.

Obviously I went beyond that, started experimenting more.  The bass stays central but the sounds always drift. So each time you listen you’re not just bobbing your head, you’re thinking  "I heard something new in Terror Danjah’s tune". So it always lasts longer.

Industry Standard was the breakthrough release, in terms of people realizing that here was a producer to reckon with. What came next?

Payback was the biggest.  That EP of remixes was one of Aftershock's top sellers. It was getting caned the most, especially my "Creepy Crawler" remix of "Frontline".   That cemented it for us.

Basically you took Big E.D.'s "Frontline" and merged it with your own "Creep Crawler" from Industry Standard.  It's got a really unusual synth sound, harmonically rich, with this sour, edge-of-dissonance tonality. It makes you  feel like you're on the verge of a stress-induced migraine. A sound like veins in your temple throbbing.

It's a normal synth, but where many people would just use it straight out of the module without any processing or texture,  I’ve learned some techniques to give it more.  I add that to it. I can’t tell you how, though. Certain producers might go "ah!"

Those sort of wincing tonalities are a Terror Danjah hallmark.  Another are the bombastic mid-frequency riffs you use that sound a bit like horn fanfares, and that sort of pummel the listener in the gut. They've got  this distorted, smeared quality that makes them sound muffled and suppressed, like their full force is held back. But that just makes them more menacing, a shadowy presence lurking in the mix.  Like a pitbull on a leash, growling and snarling.

That's like an orchestral riff.  Again, it's all about the effects I put on it. If you heard it dry you’d think "Is that it?"  It’s the same techniques I use for the giggle.

Ah, your famous hallmark:  the jeering death-goblin laughter.  How did you come up with the Gremlin?

I had a lot of drum and bass sample CDs back in the day and I had that sound from time.  I used it a couple of time in tracks, just to see how it sounds.  Then I stopped using it and everyone was like, "Where is it?!?". I was like, "I don’t want to use it no more".  But everyone was going like "That’s nang! Use it!".  So I switched it up, pitched it down, did all sorts of madness with it.

But Terror Danjah music is not all dread and darkness. You do exquisite, heart-tugging things like "So Sure," your R&G (rhythm-and-grime) classic. Or "Crowbar 2," a really poignant, yearning production draped in what sound like dulcimer chimes,  a lattice of teardrops. That one reminds me of ambient jungle artists like Omni Trio and LTJ Bukem.

I used to listen to Omni Trio and all that, when I was 14 or 15. That R&G style is more me.   Everything you hear is different sides to me, but that sound, I can do that in my sleep.  One day I can be pissed off and make a tune for deejays to do reloads with. And another day I'll do one where you can sit down and listen and relax, or listen with your girl and smooch her.

Do you see anyone else in grime operating at the same level of sophistication, in terms of producers?

I don’t think none of them really. [Aftershock producer] D.O.K. is the closest in terms of subtle changes, and DaVinChe. You've also got  P-Jam.   But I don't really look at anyone and think they’re amazing. Wiley at one point was the guy whose level was what I wanted to get to.  But I don’t think there’s anyone now who’s doing anything different. They’re being sheep.

After the very active 2003/2004/2005 phase, Aftershock went pretty quiet. There were just a few more vinyl releases and then a couple of full-length things.   What happened?  And what have you been up to in recent years?

The label went quiet due to the change of the climate--the introduction of CDs in the underground market place. Because we were so successful with the vinyl format, but it was time to move with the times.  So I released a CD called Hardrive Vol 1, which had ten vocals and ten instrumentals and featured artists like Chipmunk, Griminal, Wiley,  Mz Bratt, Wretch 32, D Double E, Scorcher, Shola Ama.  I also put out an instrumental CD called Zip Files Vol. 1. And I've been working on Mz Bratt's album.

I'm told this compilation was selected out of some 80 instrumentals. Which means 62 weren't used! Does this mean you are sitting on a vast personal archive of unreleased Terror Danjah material?
Definitely. I got billions of tunes stacked on a few Terra Bytes hard drive.

You have Industry Standard Vol 4 on Planet Mu soon, and you recently returned to deejaying with the Night Slugs appearance -- does this mean you are back in the game full force? Do you feel like grime is still an area you want to work within or are you being drawn to other areas, like funky, or the more experimental end of dubstep?
I've always made music what I like, and most of the tracks on 'Gremlinz' were made before there was a genre called  'Grime' or 'Dubstep'.  I started off in Jungle, so I'm not afraid of change! 

Talking of the wacked-out end of dubstep, I can see a lot of your influence with the nu skool producers like Joker, Rustie, Guido, and so forth. Can you hear it yourself and what do you think of this sound people are calling things like "purple" and "wonky"?
 It doesn't bother me, but I personally think a producer/artist should just make the music and let the record/marketing company name it whatever!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Wooden Wand / Comus

Wooden Wand / Comus
published under the headline "Free Shtick"
Village Voice, October 25th 2005

by Simon Reynolds

Call it the “what it’s all about” factor. See, I’m digging this free-folk stuff as pure sound, but the movement’s unwritten manifesto is harder to grasp, and for me that’s always an impediment to buying into a scene wholeheartedly. Perhaps that’s why I literally don’t buy it (the f-folk scraps I have were all acquired by, erm, other means, shall we say). Just as well, maybe: Mapping this genre properly would entail a financial bloodbath, given its norm of incontinent productivity. Just check the intimidating discographic delta—cassettes, lathe-cut 7-inch singles, 3-inch CDs, side projects, and collaborations galore (see—that’s issued from a single group, New York–turned-Knoxville-based Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, during their two years of existence. This season alone sees Wooden Wand’s solo debut and two re-releases of small-run vinyl-only albums (Xiao and Buck Dharma), while an all-new Vanishing Voice full length, The Flood, is due this month.

“Pure sound” assessment first: “Free folk” verges on a misnomer. As genre expert Jon Dale points out, it’s a highly recombinant style whose warp’n’weft includes threads of not just traditional music but West Coast acid rock, prog, free jazz, Dead C–style noise, musique concréte, and “outsider” minstrels such as Jandek. Xiao‘s best tracks, “Caribou Christ in the Great Void” and “Return of the Nose,” resemble nothing so much as the raga-rock trance and narcotic wah-wah torpor of “We Will Fall” by the Stooges, while Dharma‘s “Satya Sai Baba Scuppety Plays ‘Reverse Jam Band’ ” is a strange shimmer-slither of a keyboard étude, like Morton Subotnik turning into the Blob. If Vanishing Voice have a standard mode at all, it’s long pieces like Xiao‘s “Weird Wisteria Tangles Carrion Christ But Intends No Harm” (and yes, the track titles are another stumbling block to full-on fandom) or The Flood‘s 14-minute “Satya Sai Sweetback Plays ‘Oxblood Boots.’ ” Cantering cavalcades of barely integrated instrumentation (rustling bells, tunelessly parping woodwinds, Cale-like drones, listless percussion, thrumming steel-cable bass drones, and so forth), these tracks either dissipate into oxbow lakes of abstraction or gradually accumulate disparate jetsam into tripnotic juggernauts. Still, we’re not exactly talking “Scarborough Fair,” and the only truly folky aspect is a slight bias toward sounds of acoustic provenance.

But what’s it all about, Alfie? I fear that Wand (real name, James Toth) hits the nail on the head with his self-description as “spiritual dilettante.” The f-folk genre gestures at the shamanic and visionary, but in this easygoing way that feels not so much syncretic as plain eclectic. Isn’t the spiritual path actually hard work, though, a discipline? When Vanishing Voice overtly invoke the transcendental, with the group’s intermittent female vocalist Satya Sai Baba Scuppety ululating lines like “I sought the truth so long” in her piercingly pure-toned voice, the mystical-me vibe verges on schlock. In Dharma‘s “Wicked World,” Toth mutters like a bum/seer whose desolation-row jeremiad gets ignored by passersby. His solo album exhibits a similar penchant for parable and prophecy (Toth’s a Scripture fan) but the accompaniment is pared-back minstrelsy elevated by an exquisite attentiveness to the creak-glistened textures of semi-acoustic guitar. “Spiritual Inmate” distills an f-folk tendency that can be traced back to its ancestor, the Beat movement: condescension toward the benighted square, who’s “passing so much beauty/passing on so much beauty” because he’s, like, imprisoned by being “obsessed with protection.”

It’s shtick, really, this idea of seeing clearly because you’re outside society, but then so are other “performative enactments of the authentic” like grime, so nothing wrong with that. The same element of theater can be seen in a group regarded by many f-folks as an illustrious ancestor, Comus, whose 1971 album First Utterance has just been reissued in a double CD that scoops up everything else the U.K. outfit recorded in its brief existence. That Bowie was a Comus supporter seems especially revealing. This isn’t traditional British music in the Martin Carthy sense (unadorned and faithful) but closer to Jethro Tull: ripe, rustic-flavored rock with frenetic hand-percussion à la Tyrannosaurus Rex and orchestrated elements redolent of Italo-horror soundtrack proggers Goblin. Frolicking woodwinds and Roger Wooton’s vibrato-rattling cackle conjure an indeterminately pre-industrial Albion, all gibbets and gargoyles, merlins and maypoles and maidenheads. A tale of deflowering and murder, “Drip Drip” is all the more creepy for the grotesque tenderness with which Wooton delivers lines like “your lovely body soon caked with mud/as I carry you to your grave/my arms, your hearse” (the last line borrowed by black-metal outfit Opeth for an album title). In “Song to Comus” itself, his hideously capering voice impersonates a Pan-like satyr whose piping music lures “an enchanted damsel” to his forest lair of depravity. First Utterance courts absurdity, but like a great horror movie (The Wickerman would be the apposite reference) it draws you in completely. Wooton brings a conviction to his roles as warlock/sprite/all-purpose bucolic bogeyman that takes it beyond playacting. Whereas with Wooden Wand there’s still a faint aura of make-believe, even put-on, such that, as absorbing as the sonix often are, I still don’t . . . quite . . . buy it.

A follow up post on Blissblog

Everything is glam rock performative enactment of the authentic free folk Wooden Wand

kid shirt weighs in with some interesting thoughts in semi-response to my wooden wand piece, some cool compare-and-contrast vis-a-viz grime... his idea of free folk being about wanting to disappear is intriguing (theory triggered unconsciously by "vanishing voice" maybe?), yes yes, makes sense: a bourgeois-bohemian impulse to get lost, to unmake the most of yourself, (which makes the Animal Collective's "You Don't Have to Go To College" the closest point at which the scene gets to writing that unwritten manifesto) .... tune in, turn on, drop out... dissipate and radiate.... And some of his comments about WW&VV made me think the closest parallel/precursor to them is the Butthole Surfers (think about the pastoral weirdness on Hairway to Steven, the cover of "Hurdy Gurdy Man"; the Living Theater-esque stageshow; also the thread of classic rock pastiche running through the buttholes c.f. WW's comments re. deep purple, jefferson airplane, etc etc), and the Buttholes would have been something I'd have analysed in those terms, a middle class youth stepping off the career track (gibby trained as an accountant), laying waste to their own potential as a sort of proto-political act of refusal

i was talking to jon dale (who may be on the verge of staging a reappearance act) about this, he having his own dissensions with the piece, and i realised the stumbling block for me is actually not the unwritten manifesto aspect at all, cos when all that stuff says implicit and latent you can groove along with the trippy untethered soundswirl; no the stumbling block specifically with WW&VV is when they do write the manifesto, or at least get into spelling out the "what's it all about" too literally -- either in the lyrics (Toth intoning about how "the mystical power of the beautiful flower has turned sour”, or Satya Sai Baba Scuppety ululating about how "I sought the truth so long… all things must pass away… there is one path to choose” or visioning “a land of wondrous beauty that far exceeds my wildest dreams/where the air is pure and clean”) or just the mode of address: invocational, i-be-the-prophet. Cos, for me as not-ready-to-sign-up-for-membership-in-the-movement bystander-onlooker, it's like you're suddenly put on the spot: you either have to say "yes, i totally buy it, this guy is a visionary" or you hold back. and for a whole bunch of reasons possibly more to do with me than the guy's performance, I hold back from that suspension of disbelief. Woebot described the Wand solo album as "more Bonnie Prince Billie" than the group's stuff, and that's it exactly, cos Will Oldham' another one where I don't quite buy the persona, there's a "you're kidding me, right?" element.

With "performative enactment of the authentic", I guess what I’m suggesting or playing with is simply the idea that nothing is “real” once it takes place before a microphone or on a stage (how could it be?). Everything is glam rock, it's all artifice, the make-believe dependent on suspension of disbelief (bothon the performer's part and the audience's). So Humble Pie, despite being very much the kind of shabby blues-bore drivel that prompted glam rock into being, were no less contrived, absurd, or even grotesque, than Roxy Music. Everything is glam-rock too because it all works through glamour, of which there are many more kinds than "glam" or Hollywood (the glamour of anti-heroism or "ordinary joe" is still the stuff of fantasy, from Springsteen to Mike Skinner). Glamour in its original sense--witchy enchantment--might be a big part of free-folk's allure; the mise-en-scene that is conjured by the music works through exoticisim and mystique--you imagine a raggle-taggle commune on the periphery of society, banging instruments in some Finnish wildland or Vermont grove (or with the ancestor-influences: Incredible String Band and extended family in the woods, Vashti in her caravan, etc).

All the things that Kid Shirt lists, seemingly to refute the idea that there is a manifesto or needs to be a manifesto to the f-folk scene, do actually amount to a charter of principles, albeit quite diffuse and low-key. Not a manifesto in the sense of bulleted declarations and exhortations to be shouted in bold and capitals from a soapbox, but certainly a cluster of tendencies-verging-on-tenets:

-- looseness and spontaneity, a be-here-now approach to the jam
-- flux and mutability
-- shifting line-ups, collaborations, nucleus-groups orbited by solar dust-rings of freefloating occasional participants
-- trance states, creative automatism, music-as-ritual rather than "show"
-- tribalistic/family/commune-like image (and often structure)
-- "I am the music. There is no separation"--Heather Leigh Murray
-- “it’s all music, man” as overtly stated principle of all-gates-open fusion
-- yet at the same time countered by very definite zones of non-influence and attractions to other areas; bias to the organic, the acoustic, the hand-played

then when you factor that in with the hand-made, cottage industry aspect: the lathe-cut vinyl, the small-run pressings and odd formats (painted and decorated cassettes etc), the attempt to de-commoditise the commodity while also re-enchanting it, making it more precious and treasurable; you see an impulse to escape and transcend commerce that echoes the original folk movement's (in both US and UK) drive to reject the commercialism of popular culture music.

yes it does amount to a taggable worldview/philosophy, one that's in the continuum of the hippies, the beats (Woebot nailed it all a while back with his Are You a Beatnik or an Avant-Yob thesis, plus afterthoughts). and a subculture too, there's strong elements of homology between sound, clothing, discourse, economics

it reminds me a tiny bit of psy-trance: the syncretic spirituality (psy-trance's postmodern tribal package of Tao, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, Hatha Yoga, Mayan cosmology, wicca, and alien abduction theories), the trancey-trippy music, the internationalism and dispersed rhizomatic scene structure, the cult of the great outdoors, the freak image

the musical coordinates for psy-folk are a lot cooler than psy-trance, of course, but i reckon that both scenes are expressions of a recurring and perennial syndrome, something that is
almost a structural fixture (if not quite requirement) of Western society... the children of affluence who become see through their parents values and the spiritual void of a life based around ambition/acquisition, become disenchanted with its lack of enchantment and try to build another path that will re-enchant the world ... you could probably even trace the impulse back through the centuries... here's a chunk from the Sex Revolts on those Medieval gnostic heretics and millenarian cultists the Free Spirits:

"The 12th Century initiated a period of unprecedented prosperity, just as in the post-World War Two West. But this materialism prompted a counter-reaction, in the shape of a new class of voluntary poor who renounced riches in search of spiritual values. These downwardly mobile bohemians formed 'a mobile, restless intelligentsia' who went 'on the road', following the trade
routes and preaching a contempt for wordly things. Like the beats, the Free Spirit brethren divided the world into square and hip, a 'crude in spirit' majority and a 'subtle in spirit' elite who could access the Divine Oneness in this life rather than having to wait until the afterlife. "

In the end though, I have to give the f-folkers a cautious "big up ya collective chest", if only for being one of the few things in the last five years (and i know the scene's got longer-back roots than that, but then so's grime: as fruitions, both are really Noughties phenoms when it comes down to it,) that actually amounts to a thang--a movement/scene, with something approaching a manifesto (however buried and vague, which is in itself in keeping with the manifesto, after all), plus accompanying canon it's pulled together for itself (interesting to me that they leave out the straighter Britfolk-Steeleye, Carthy, Tabor, Ashley Hutchings--in favour of the kooky stuff; again, makes me think it's Vashti's biography--and precisely her commercial failure--that inspires as much as her music per se). The whole package is something I can feel the pull of, to an extent, but well, I doubt I could fully get on board.

Sunday, August 18, 2019


"down with the scene"
Ipecac Recordings
Village Voice,2000

by Simon Reynolds

If anything deserves a  punk-style kick in the ass, it's IDM, short for "intelligent dance music. " Not so much a genre as a mode of appreciation, IDM was (in)famously defined by ambient guru Mixmaster Morris as "the opposite of stupid hardcore"--a snobby distinction between mindfood and rave fodder that most IDM-ers still adhere to. Right now, a lot of smart money is on kid606--real name Michael Depredo--as IDM's very own punk rock. This San Diego teenager understands that IDM, over-civilized and effete like the Roman Empire, needs to revitalize itself with barbarian blood. So he brings the noise from, where else, Stupid Dance Music--hardcore styles like gabba, jungle (in its pre-gentrification, ragga-sampling form circa 1994), Miami bass, dancehall.  On his latest album "Down With the Scene" (his first for Ipecac, the label co-founded by Faith No More's Mike Patton and former Alternative Tentacles boss Greg Werkman), Depredo even signposts his revolutionary intent with titles like "Punkshit", "Hardcore", and "Luke Vibert Can Kiss My Indie-Punk Whiteboy Ass."
The last of these is a half-flippant, half-earnest gauntlet thrown down to the first-wave IDM luminary whose 1995 EPs as Plug pioneered what subsequently came to be called "drill 'n' bass"--a mini-genre based around the appropriation and intensification-through-caricature of jungle's breakbeat-splicing techniques. Drill'n'bass is roughly one-third of what kid606 is about, so the jibe at Vibert represents both anxiety-of-influence and upstart cockiness. It's also very punk, its "move over, grandad, there's a new kid in town" disrespect redolent of The Clash's famous line about "no more Beatles Stones etc". On tracks like "Buffalo 606--the morning after"  606 does to Vibert what Vibert did to jungle --exaggerate drill'n'bass's already absurdly convoluted and convulsive polyrhythms. Bringing new meaning to the jungle superlative "tearing", Depredo shreds the fabric of beat itself, honing   splinters of what was once human, hand's on funk into precision-tooled flechettes whose micro-syncopations and hyper-flams snag your limbs and pull you everywhichway.  His savage EQ-ing and treatment of drum sounds conjures a timbral fantasia-- ride-cymbals that weep, miaow,  or hiss like sulphuric in your face;  snares that bleat or silversplash like knitting needles in a pool of mercury. "Kidrush" is like a tumbleweed of barbed wire, or a classic jungle tune played at 78 rpm through the world's shittiest stylus.
The other two-thirds of the kid606 sound-spectrum are even noisier: the distorto-blare riffs and stampeding kick drums of gabba, and the hums, crackles, 'n' tics of "glitch" (electronic dronescapes built from the sounds of malfunctioning equipment, vandalized CDs etc).  As hybrids go, it sounds horrible on paper, but kid606's saving grace is what I can only describe as (not very punk, this) "musicality"--a feel for the sensuousness of different kinds of distortion, an oddly refined approach to the excruciation of sound. It's a subtle frenzy---recent developments in audio software allow producers to tweak the parameters of every separate beat in every single bar (a level of micro-processing that results either in music of inexhaustible listenability or a self-sabotaging fiddliness---it's in the ear of the beholder, natch). Subscribing too often to the puerile equation of speed with intensity, kid606 is actually most absorbing when he slows down. "GQ on the EQ" is like an Eighties electro "drum solo" composed from the sounds of a  wasp in a jam jar, sizzling bacon, a wah-wahed bedspring, and so forth. "Secrets 4 Sale" is glitch-funk, a Prince-meets-Oval mosaic of twitches and hiccups. "Dame Nature" is house built from gastric rumblings and stomach sonar.
Attitude-wise, kid606 makes me think of  Digital Hardcore with a broader sonic canvas, or  Huggy Bear if they'd been ravers rather than Pastels fans--the same  petulancy and obstreperousness,  the split impulses between expressive urgency and hermetic encryption, the exaltation of youth  (Depredo being the real thing, whereas Huggy sloganeered about Kid's Lib Guerrilas but turned out to be the oldest teenagers in London town).  There's also an ethos of autonomous cultural production that is very Riot Grrl, very Huggy Nation. Kid606 is just one node in an international network of home-studio do-it-yourselfers and laptop improvisers---hyperproductive, multi-aliased artists like V/VM, Speedranch Jansky, Fennesz, Matmos, labels like Irritant, Mego, FatCat, Skam--who release split singles (like the EP Depredo shared with Christoph De Babalon on FatCat earlier this year), collaborate on one-off projects, jam together on tour, and trade remixes.  (The recent kid606 and friends Vol.1 collates remixes of and by Depredo, and is highly recommended).  With many records released in editions of 500 or less, it could be that this scene (IDM's New Wave) has more producers than consumers--which either fulfils punk's Situationist utopia of a culture where the gap between engaged artist or passive spectator is abolished, or just makes this whole zone a cultural backwater. (What's the point of having a revolution if nobody  notices?)
Punk was a spasm within the same cultural formation that included progressive rock, it was younger brothers revolting their older brother's wisdom. Johnny Rotten owned a Pink Floyd T-shirt before he scrawled "I Hate" on it, and lots of punks had Gentle Giant record secreted in back of their collections. (Bizarrely kid606  has remixed Gentle Giant, or so his website discography claims).  Inevitably, kid606 and his fellow insurgents share some familial traits with IDM.  Such as IDM's founding and fallacious dichotomy between listening and dancing (bollox, of course--dancers listen very closely, with every sinew and muscle and nerve in their bodies). Another IDM notion that Depredo appears to share is the idea of scenes as creative shackles on the artist (that's how I read the ambiguous title  "Down With The Scene", anyway). Again, bollox--nine times out of ten in the history of dance music, it's the populist hardcore scenes that come up with the really big, really new ideas, which the fringe experimentalists merely tweak or addle with nuances.
Drill'n'bass is the obvious recent example of this parasitism, so it's worth contrasting a track by Squarepusher, the genre's most famous exponent, with a superficially similar one by kid606. The 'Pusher man's "Come On  My Selector" is a sneering parody of jungle, its facetious title tweaking and enfeebling a jump-up catchphrase that has huge historical weight behind it, and that in its context of actual usage represents the power of the crowd over the DJ (becoming part of the crowd being IDM's mortal terror).

Turning jungle into a joke is probably the only way an IDM artist like Squarepusher can deal with the humiliation of his debts to SDM. "Catstep/My Kitten/Catnap Vatstep Dsp Remix" (a Hrvatski remix of Depredo track that's on both Down With the Scene and Kid 606 and Friends) is no less daft than "Come On My Selector", and it shares the hallmark of IDM forays into hardcore terrain (a sort of danger-less mayhem,  stemming from the lack of real "social energy" invested in the music). But there's something palpably loving about its pastiche of jungalistic cliches (a Sleng-Teng Casio bassline, tumbling Amen breakbeats, a vocoder-ragga voice chanting buzzphrases like "mash it up", "dubplate pressure", and "ruffneck soldier" like a cross between Stephen Hawking and Beenie Man), and an explosive topsy-turvy energy that recalls jungle at its most rinsed out circa '93-94.
Left-field artists often expect applause for combining several Really Big, Really New ideas that originated elsewhere. And the harshest thing you could say about kid606 is that he's really just offering an entertainingly executed composite of  established extremisms. I'd rather give him the benefit of the doubt, and hear his music as the omnivorous, insatiable frenzy of a restless musical spirit. If he hasn't yet reached the absolute novelty he aspires to, you can catch the scent of its imminence.