Umek’s 1605 (Sixteenofive) label project focuses on releasing and promoting “live presentations of machine-made music”.
Although “Unclear Mechanics” was released on Mark Knight’s Toolroom Records, rather than on Umek’s own record label, it definitely showcases the tension between human and machine that’s central to the producer’s work.
Mechanical noises assault the dancefloor’s ears; the vocal sample is sliced, chopped, and increased to warp speed until any sense of words or lyrics is eliminated, leaving nothing but pure sound. And clean, cold digital synthesizers play bouncy melodies around the 4/4 beat.
It’s not quite man vs. machine. More like the humans and the androids have figured out how to live together in peaceful co-existance and to make great music.
The Original Club mix “Unclear Mechanics” first makes its presence in the mix known with a boingy, offbeat bassline and some shuffling hi-hats, before the awesomely mechanical sound of a robot dinosaur introduces the glitchy, cut-up vocal sample into the mix. Pulsating, pumping FX add punctuation to the track, followed by the insane, chattering vocal buildup, which leads into a pointed, hypnotically repetitive lead synth playing a back-and-forth melody.
It’s techy and groovy, loop-based but with enough variation to keep things interesting, melodic and slightly twisted: “Unclear Mechanics” would easily fit into the middle section of a tech- house, minimal or even a laid-back techno set.
Umek is a stalwart of the European techno scene. The President of Slovenia publicly voted for him in DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs poll. The voting was broadcast on TV news in the country. He’s previously ranked as high as number 29 in the poll, and tracks like this one can only help to increase his exposure.
“Unclear Mechanics” is cool enough to appeal to an underground audience, but with enough melody and attitude to crossover into the more mainstream dance scene.
It has something of an oldschool loopy feel to it, but the sounds themselves are nothing but modern. “Unclear Mechanics” is even too forward-thinking for a vinyl or CD release.
To date, it’s only available as a digital download and it’s hit number 44 on Beatport’s digital downloads chart. Although he’s released remixes and DJ mixes for the label in the past, this is Umek’s debut solo production for Toolroom Records.