Cognition 3 - Clan Analogue

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Wave of Cognition

With the all-too-brief KISS FM October broadcast a dim memory, footshufflin’ beatchasers have had to follow local DJs like Nic Toupee from the warehouse gig to the lo-fi club party to hear her contemporary choice cuts; to hear the latest mixes from one of Melbourne’s most musically progressive groove analyzers. But with the summertime release of Clan Analogue’s Cognition compilation, co-produced by Nic Toupee Lowrey and Sydney-sider Toby Kazumichi Grime, there’s a chance for all beatbox-fanatics to sample some of the freshest wares available from local electronica content providers, as seen through the Toupee lens.

“We sent out a list of our current influences to a wide angle of Clan Analogue-related people”, Toupee outlines Cognition’s mission. “Clan Analogue’s always been associated and known for embracing the different and we wanted to see what they would do with some of our current influences that were a bit more danced-based. Clan Analogue maybe it’s not so well-known for it’s contemporary side as for it’s ambience – we wanted to capture clan analogue’s open-mindedness, and if doesn’t sound too wanky, we wanted to give a sense of community: as people interested in the music they’re producing.”

Toupee sums up the 2-CD-long results: “What we came back with was people’s attempts at marrying their sounds with the influences that were exciting to us: lo-fi sounds, Mouth on Mars, Christian Vogel, DJ Rush. You know, it was ‘if you’d like to try we’d love to hear what you come up with’”, Toupee speaks vibrantly about the new release, available on Chaos Music. Toupee adds: “While we outlined our influences to people, by no means did we get any ‘copy cat tracks’. What people contributed was great, fresh and original. Maybe people were making these tunes anyway and just waiting for the right compilation to come along? either way we got great tracks that Toby and I both were really blown away by…”

As a double-CD compilation, Cognition avoids the ‘seasonal hits anthology’ label readily stickered to radio-based collections (some nevertheless worthwhile), yet not competing for the position as canon de electronica against the likes of Timothy Ritchie’s Made for Export. Cognition offers a well-timed sweeping survey of the schematic meanderings of Australia’s electronica finest as they process and synthesise the latest beats on the street.

Toupee’s use of the Cognition material in her live sets over the summer has been further amplified with the cheeky chunkiness of digital grooves from the dex of B(if)tekker, Nicole Skeltys. “Nicole’s got two healthy identities already with both Artficial and B(if)tek, so this isn’t really about setting another name to it, just writing and playing stuff and seeing where it goes.”

At the recent launch of both the Cognition release as well as stablemate DeepChild’s first laser-oriented morsel, Hymns from Babylon, the duo of Nic’s interweaved and looped around electronic tunes that seemed to morph together and communicate until, ten minutes into the set, three soundwaves start to share the telling of a story: a mixture of sharp, machine-based beats; the fruity thoughts of Nic Mk Skeltys being mike-d (it’s not really MCing is it?) at the frequency just-above white noise; and chunky, rounded lo-fi grooves, the free-flowing animal energy. Riding a rhythm wave as one, the three tales of beats told their story, as a thin but eager gathering of trainspotters made the most of the slide-friendly polished dancefloor underfoot. It’s the story of a world, not unlike this one, perthaps, but a peek into such a world a few years hence, when, by and large, machines do the work. And in some groove-lasered Asimovian way, the punters danced the beat-based tale of the robot who, in a frenzy of servile response, becomes the artificial intelligence who trips across the nature of paranoia and neurosis, and through that hysterical trapdoor does the robot dancer emerge on the threshold of a newly evolved humanity. The sicophantic humanoid so wound up by being dutiful that it begins to feel. The robotic marriage of digitized aural sequences to human ears that connect with emotional well-centres. (After the story played out, the 2 Nic’s signed off the set as pyjama-clad bananas: playfully charading to Friendly-esque zounds of chunky, cuddly lo-fi.)

With the rave tribes strong support of community radio, KISS, which is off the air until later in the summer season amidst looming broadcasting decisions, Toupee – who has been known about her strong support of new music-making talent on the station- sounds optimistic for the future of Melbourne-based beats. “Melbourne’s a great place. People can handle depth – it’s good to be on the case because you see people take stuff home and really work with it,” Toupee reflects on her loyalty to the scene. But what’s in it for her? “I’d like a hand in the next Cognition – but at the same time I can see the value of giving someone else a go, it’s the Clan Analogue way.”

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