Kuedo Work, Live & Sleep in Collapsing Space
There are essentially two primary components that made Kuedo's Severant LP our eleventh favorite album of 2011: drums and synths. Really, you could potentially say that about a ton of records, but what made Jamie Teasdale's productions stand out among the crowd is how he applied his Roland 808s and his Juno 60s (or their sonic equivalents) in ways that are simultaneously nostalgic, futuristic, and of the now—evoking both the ethereal Blade Runner soundtrack and Lex Luger's menacing trap beats at once. Kuedo's new single, "Work, Live & Sleep in Collapsing Space," aims for that same sound—albeit on the grimier end of the spectrum—using the same tools, but somehow lands in a zone which is relatively unfamiliar to Severant's tracklist.
What's most noticeably different on "Work, Live..." is how it drastically changes shape while remaining immediately recognizable at any given point, and how, in comparison to the more brief and sketch-like cuts on Kuedo's LP, it's kind of an epic tune. The song starts out with a bed of lush synth chords and the thudding click-clack of a drum machine, which eventually dissolves into a metallic ether before a lone phoenix of a bass arpeggio arises from the steel dust. And that's just the first minute. Teasdale takes us through a few more transformations before he's done with "Work, Live...," cutting out the gnarled arp before resurrecting it again with even more tenacity and dipping us in and out of his dense cloud of fallout mist. What also separates his new single from Severant is how it could in almost no way be used on a dancefloor, which ultimately works in the producer's favor. The freedom of making music outside of a particular context often gives way to fresh territory, and here, Kuedo walks the distinct lines separating dystopian film scores, vintage synth music, and good ol' UK bass.
The remixes do well complimenting Kuedo's original; both Laurel Halo's and Claude Speed's versions rely mostly on their own kinds of atmospheres, though the latter track eventually bolsters its milieu of woozy synth tones with some powerful live drumming. "Work, Live & Sleep in Collapsing Space (Laurel Halo Remix)" calls upon the assistance of some stringed instruments and outerspace radio frequencies to get its point across, whatever that may be. The Brooklyn artist's production comes off as more of a crowded soundscape than a finely orchestrated composition, with seemingly random synth noodlings and audio fragments floating in and out of earshot, but it nonetheless has its charms. The closing track walks away with the highest marks of the two remixes, as Claude Speed—who, it's worth mentioning, hails from the LuckyMe-affiliated quartet American Men—slowly builds his tune across eight minutes with a clear trajectory. At first, it sounds very much like a lost track from Oneohtrix Point Never's Returnal LP, repping an uncannily similar new-age vibe and nebulous form, but once the original's bass arpeggio and the impressive drum work take over the mix, we're shown a new vision of "Work, Live..." that's just as expansive and adventurous as Kuedo's own.
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