Kyle Molleson is making dance music that moves too fast to be boring.
Once upon a time, dance music signified an intense inclusivity, its downtempo evoking a literal underground that was to be investigated down the stairs and behind a nondescript door. You were not welcome inside but, then, few wanted to be. The dehumanized element kept the interest of mass culture out, we were a country of talk shows and rock stars, flesh infinitely jiggling and the relationship suited everyone involved just fine. But now everyone wants to be inside, throbbing in front of Coldplay sets, festival ringers ordered to snatch up at least five Calvin Harrises a day, wherever they may be found.
Listening to the debut full-length from Kyle Molleson, who records electronic music as Makeness, is a way to appreciate what’s still being done at the edges of what electronic rock – powered by backbeats that ricochet off the walls – can still do. Sequencers squeak and squelch in small blips that recall the early 90s Warp catalog while ethereal synth lines carry the heaviness of music listened to in dark rooms. Often times, these sounds occur in the same track, appearing and then disappearing with remarkable ease. Molleson creates sonic cornucopias that feel anxious about containing one thing. They quiver, from one sound to the next.
Molleson also sings. Open-octaved, anonymously British, his voice jangles between beat pad thumps, gondola-guiding the listener through choppy waters. On “Who Am I To Follow Love,” he is joined by Nancy Anderson, who sings for West London five-piece Babeheaven, and whose voice is breathy disco gold, Molleson chases it with funk chords that dissolve in the air.
Most arresting about this set on songs are the cracker post-punk beats that begin each other them before Molleson eagerly lets them go like too many balloons at a party. Or, in a similar fashion, the Krauty motorik that rips “Gold Star” before a crescendo hits like a bomb and then fades away like sheetmetal. Issues with commitment underline his thoughts: after returning from the club strobe lights on “Who Am I To Follow Love,” he begins having second thoughts about “6am’s bad habit” on the morning walk home. The song is called “Stepping Out of Sync” and in it, dancing becomes a literal way to do lead a different sort of life, fearing boredom and running away from.
Scotland has become a sort of motley stew of germinating dance music, from the bright warm glassine fires built by Rustie and Hudson Mohawke to the spongy pelts of Harris’s club muzak. Molleson makes his music over in Edinburgh (Makeness is named after a ridge thereabouts) and his distance from Glasgow’s imitable post-hip hop rave scene translates into a punk ambivalence toward anything longer than a chord. This is advancement. An earlier self-released EP, Temple Works, saw his Makeness project gesturing toward an ultimately less interesting minimalism, a sound that’s easier to copy than do something interesting with. A gesture toward his capacity to do these things can be found in “Motorcycle Idling,” an exercise in using a song title to combat figurative emptiness. Synthesized drum beats spend three minutes conspiring to evoke mechanical puttering and nothing else. The discovery here is that sublimity is harder to get to than a good time. And right now, Molleson has discovered that he can make dance music that moves too fast to ever be boring.
Loud Patterns is out now on Secretly Canadian.