House of Fix

21st Century Fix

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Noisemonger Jason Leach garnered quite a cult following during the late '90s with his Subhead project, and his ambitions led him afterward to form not one, not two, but three different projects, the sum of which he billed as the House of Fix and showcased on the collective's double-disc debut, 21st Century Fix. The 2003 release by Tresor features one disc of exclusively Circa (also featuring Kit, aka Kit McKay) recordings, while the second disc features more of that project, as well as an abundance of tracks by Royal Blood (Dark Luke, aka Luke Davies) and Carrion Crow (Paul, aka Paul Humphrey, and Deff Peck, aka Tom Bartlett). Despite the abundance of participants and the various projects, what all 37 tracks here have in common is Leach's production, which is nothing short of genius, not to mention downright prolific and utterly original. This guy comes up with some of the most unimaginable beats of 2003 (or any other given year, for that matter). He draws from the same bottomless well of digital conceivabilities as similarly mad geniuses like Aphex Twin and Kid 606, yet he leans more toward noisy techno-tinged hip-hop than straightforward IDM or glitch. As a result, his tracks are listenable and rhythmic à la hip-hop while, at the same time, dark (very dark, in fact), dirty (unclean in a literal sense rather than sleazy), and demented (sane people don't make music this twisted). Leach's sound is a fascinating one that has cross-genre appeal, and it helps that his collaborators are likewise inventive and crazy. The Carrion Crow tracks are the most experimental ones here -- dense, assaulting noisescapes. The Royal Blood ones play like miscellanea -- some more rock-styled than hip-hop or IDM, perhaps seeming so because of their frequent use of vocals. And the Circa ones are commercially, or at least popularly, minded -- built upon verse-hook-verse song structures and anchored by sung-rapped vocals. Given the scope of 21st Century Fix, it's the sort of album you have to parse. Because there are so many tracks and they are so experimental, you can't expect to play the album through from beginning to end every time, let alone at the first sitting. As such, it's a difficult album, and one that is no doubt intended as such; however, it's an album that's worth the time and effort if you're interested in noisy, left-field, electronic music informed by hip-hop. Above all, though, 21st Century Fix is a testament to the mad genius of Leach and a showcase for his most ambitious undertaking to date.

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