Reviewed by The Skinny
Darwin probably wouldn’t have enjoyed ‘Restaurant of Assassins’ much, not least because his seminal ‘Origin Of The Species’ was written while holed-up in a library and considering the lack of basin sized earphones in the late 19th century, he probably wouldn’t have appreciated the kilo-ton sub bass and minimal bleeps. Whilst Charlie D might not have dug raving kick drums and Ragga Twins vocals, he would doubtlessly have felt some affinity with Neil Landstrumm and the ‘missing link’ quality of this album. Darwin infamously searched for the creature that would prove an evolutionary step between primates and Homo sapiens, and ‘Restaurant of Assassins’ neatly bridges the gap between the current predilection for two-step inspired bass heavy shenanigans and the classic wonky techno sound that Landstrumm pioneered.
With Darwin unavailable for comment, Landstrumm suggests that “bass and sub-sonics in the UK created dance hall and rave beats. It was a northern thing with bleep and early rave before drum and bass took over mid 90’s with post hardcore and jungle dissolving”. With Monolake and Surgeon giving Vex’d a bowel-worrying industrial re-shape and Kode 9 remixing alongside Detroit godhead Carl Craig. ‘Restaurant Of Assassins’ seems like another facet of the techno/dubstep crossover that everyone’s banging on about. Landstrumm in evolution rather than bandwagon jumping though, and proudly declares: “I’ve always been into heavy bass.” If you doubt it, dig out a copy of his ‘Bedrooms and Cities’ to feel some heavy subs.
What’s most interesting about Landstrumm is how he’s changed and evolved over his career: from making Berlinophile brokenbeat techno in Edinburgh, to operating in the 90s UK rave scene, to heading record label cum graphics company Scandinavia, Landstrumm has adjusted and adapted to different scenes with chameleon-like ease. “Ive always been into absorbing what I like from other contemporary movements and incorporating them into my own music. Hybridise it along the way.” By accident or design, Landstrumm’s current hybridisation happens to fit neatly into an increasingly lucrative scene, as evinced by by its release on Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu, home to Boxcutter, Warrior Dubz, and Milanese. But, he says, “the danger in this business is that you get pigeonholed into a genre.” Which makes experimentation dangerously alienating – people want a repeat shag from a record they liked but as far as you’re concerned its done, over.”
His biggest releases have been on German labels, and until his recent relocation back to Edinburgh, he operated from out of New York. However, Landstrumm’s a Scot at heart, and claims it was the “Scottish sense of humour mainly…” that brought him back to Edinburgh. “I also missed those long, grey, despondent days.” Being humourless might ust be the stereotype of German musicians, but Landstrumm’s clearly attached to his home turf. We figure it’s the irascible wit of the Scots – whose greatest comic exports are a purple-bearded, nudist biker, and a pish – poor parody of a bucky swigging thug – that drew him back.
It’s not just patriotism at work though. Landstrumm repeatedly makes references to the UK’s music scene, citing an early introduction to the Madchster scene as one of the pivotal moments in his musical upbringing, which might go some way to explaining his deep love of raves. He namechecks Scottish acts like Rustie and the rest of the Stuff / Dalriada / Rub-A-Dub crowd, adamant that “Scotland is one of the best countries to play because of the crowds, clubs, and vibe. Fact.” Admittedly you’d need your ears nailed shut, or some unjustifiably intense aversion to great tunes to dislike Rusite’s new EP, Jagz the Smack (Stuff Records).
The patriotism’s sweet, and itss one of the few constants about Landstrumm; everything from his musical taste to his role changes constantly, and with an insatiable enthusiasm, he flits between ranting about how happy he is in the Plant Mu family, to telling us that he’s “always keen to get into new circles with the graphics and music, film, games, radio… different types of gigs.” Despite an urge to expand his talents that verges on pretension, there’s also a party mentality that never drops, and though the album title sounds like an episode of (achingly cool, ultra violent anime) ‘Samurai Champloo’, the real meaning is much more appropriate. “It was a meeting place in 18th Century Paris where wrong-un’s, Bohemians and ne’er-do-wells gathered to experiment with new chemicals and generally have a good time. Sounds a bit like a decent rave really.”
- The Doubtful Guest - Acid Sauna
- Barry Lynn - Balancing Lakes
- Tom Burbank - Famous First Words
- The Gasman - Audiogold
- Boxcutter - Glyphic
- Frog Pocket - Come On Primates Show Your Teeth!
- µ-Ziq - Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique
- Luke Vibert - Chicago,Detroit,Redruth
- Various - 2OO
- Luke Vibert - Mate Tron
- Syntheme - Vol.1
- Ra - Ev.Panic Redone
- Shitmat - Grooverider
- Neil Landstrumm - Restaurant Of Assassins
- Venetian Snares - Pink+Green
- MRK1 - Copyright Laws
- Milanese - Adapt
- Last Step - Last Step
- Distance - My Demons
- Julian Fane - Our New Quarters
- The Gasman - Love Collection
- Distance - Fallen (Vex'd Remix)
- FFF - The Feeling
- Distance - Traffic