Seattle’s Tommy Mertens, aka Korma, is part of a new disjointed faction of North-American producers - Portland’s SPF666 and Vancouver’s Spurz come to mind -, that, given the barren landscape of EDM, rock, and chill-something that still dominates the American continent, are uniquely motivated to look to European developments for inspiration. Developments which are processed from a distance, en masse, in relative isolation from their birthplace, and through a fitting laid-back lens… resulting in club/grime hybridization which is entirely divorced from a UK dialogue, and more internationally-viable for it. As such, Korma is a bit of well-kept secret in his own town - which, however, hasn’t stopped him from gigging with the likes of Mike G, Total Freedom, Addison Groove, DJ Paypal and DJ Earl, releasing prescient peace edits on Hush Hush Records, releasing two EPs worth of devastating grime-laden club tools on Car Crash Set, and securing forthcomings releases on Team Aerogel and, most saliently, Infinite Machine.
IM031, or the “ZGMF-X19A” EP, is titled as such after a Mobile Suit Gundam of the same name – also known as the “Infinite Justice Gundam”… which befits both us and the music. Indeed, Mertens achieved most of its mecha aesthetic through inspired sampling and deft arrangement of decrypted triple-A game soundbanks – allowing him to be sonically engrossing without the usual trade-off in space. The result is a collection of elegantly restrained and steady grime tools, interspersed with completely unexpected, yet welcome bouts of melodic euphoria.
This trait is best evidenced in opening tracks “Pariah” and “Orloj”, both of which seem to exist at the intersection of a less bombastic Murlo or Dark0, a plainly happier Loom or Fatima Al Qadiri, or a more earnest PC Music. It’s been a good two decades since sylphid saccharine bliss of such magnitude or sincerity was last visited upon us – and the contrast between the cryonic production aesthetic and the warmth & fuzz engendered in the listener is cognitively delicious.
“Dismantle” prolongs the euphoria for the duration of its intro before exploding into a functionalist slog through SFX riddims. The title track subsequently abandons all tonality in favor of a gut-churning barrage of detuning subkicks and an incessant “Warning!” transmission. Lastly, Korma enlists Poor Sport for grime ballad “Soft Answer”, getting romantic with square waves and gunshot samples.
On flip duty, Tomas Urquieta, quite enamored with the source material, simply gives “Orloj” a tighter edit, while Spurz (whose remix of “Dismantle” is due as separate DLC) opts for an all-inclusive club primer.
Liar’s Optimix™ of “Orloj” sees him revisiting his “Cybertime” sound palette for a dramatic and ever-changing xenogrime romp – more proprietary composition than remix, it’s meant as pummeling, esoteric ode to the sentiment of the original.
Release Date: May 11th, 2015
released May 11, 2015
Written & produced by Korma.
Mastered by Liar.
Artwork by Geert Wijns.