3 out of 5
Label: WeMe Records
Produced by: James Kirby
Many moons ago, I remember constantly seeing V/Vm releases under the glass counter at the Kim’s on St. Mark’s in New York. One particularly caught my eye due to it being Aphex Twin-related, and, being a fan of Richard D. James, I couldn’t figure out what it was; that is, I wondered if it was an Aphex project, as I hadn’t heard of V/Vm otherwise, and we didn’t carry the artist at the music store at which I worked. I think I asked the dude at Kim’s counter about it one time, and received the kind of answer that made people hate indie music shops – something akin to an “if you don’t know what this is don’t bother asking” type response. Man, I had a love / hate relationship with Kim’s, lemme tell ya.
As I got more into non-Aphex Twin electronica, V/Vm would occasionally pop up, but always on the fringes, and never directly in the path of my purchases. I started to get the gist: mash-ups; jank; something of a riot-maker in the scene, and likely not my thing. Collecting WeMe Records releases, I finally had my reason for actually checking V/Vm (aka James Kirby) out, as his “Made In Belgium” new beat tribute was put out by the label.
Procured a copy, put it on, and while I was impressed by the skuzzy rhythms, I couldn’t feel my way through its glitchy cut-and-paste of beats, which seemed geared toward making sure no one could actually dance to any given track. I resigned myself to a review of “interesting, but not a repeat listen,” and then I examined my wax more closely and noticed a whole bunch of tiny divots along both sides. Maybe the glitchiness was… skips? It seemed unlikely, as the hiccups are seeded into the layers of synths and whatnot, but I picked up another copy just to make sure.
Yeah, it’s all part of it.
Made in Belgium has a long hype sticker on the front proclaiming its dirty acid sound. That’s definitely there – after the squiggly light touch of opener “Best Orgasm,” the remainder of the EP dives in to hefty, club-rousing beats. The backbone of these tracks are fantastic, but, as mentioned, Kirby’s hacky tendencies remain, and any given flow is stutter-stepped interrupted by something going off-pace. I suspect I could get an ear for this if I listened to it more – certainly there’s plenty of stuff I adore now that would’ve sounded impossibly atonal way back when – but there’s maybe too much of a jokester’s sensibility behind the music to really interest me to get to that point with it.
I’m glad WeMe finally has me with a V/Vm release in my collection, and I guess I’m also sort of glad to confirm that the artist’s work is along the lines of what I’d suspected. There’s enough skill on display with the tracks’ extreme glitchiness to merit further exploration at some point, especially noting how badassly heavy the core beats are. Maybe I’ll work backwards from Kirby’s more tame stuff and find my way back around to proclaiming Made in Belgium as a work of art, and not the work of a prankster with an ear for new beat jams.