Roy Batty Jr’s ‘Scope Dynamics’ cassette revels in its uncomfortability
You may remember a little while back a profile we did on a Sydney label by the name of Ken Oath Records. The label are right in the thick of their musical output, with two compilations, ten vinyl releases and now, three cassettes. Their third cassette comes in from ROY BATTY JR., a Sydney-based producer, amicable party-thrower and dancefloor commander.
His contribution to the label is in Scope Dynamics, an eight-track odyssey through blinding sci-fi soundscapes with heavily dystopian tendencies. The release sees the label move away from the spirited sounds captured on their various 12″ forays, and delve deep into something conceptual and future-facing.
‘Week After Next’ throws us straight into unchecked ambience, slowly descending through gurgling networks of acidic bass, crunchy satellites and a simultaneously calming yet harsh background noise. Various clunks reverberate through the core of the track, snapping you out of the hypnotic swirling of sounds that slowly get lost within each other, until we’re left right where it all started, until the frenzy of ‘Elas’ kicks into gear.
We’re launched into a double-time stomp of various percussive sounds, that gurgling acid still fervently bubbling away underneath the surface. The suspense of the double time builds until we’re plunged into sonic release, complete with phased lasers and hectic percussion. It’s like that scene in Blade Runner where Deckard flies through the city for the first time, and we’re left to soak up the uncomfortable harshness of what Los Angeles in 2019 has become.
‘113’ leaves us alone with a raspy sub, never once breaking contact. A tinny techstep slowly makes it way to the fore, eventually propelling us into the full-breadth of the track. Soaring strings glide effortlessly over the contrastive percussion adding cinematic dimension to it. However, we’re lulled into a false sense of sonic security as ‘2X4 Treatment’ gives us the throbbing complication of the narrative.
There’s a certain sense of claustrophobia programmed into this one, whether it be through the ever shifting gurgle of various synths or the helicopter-propellant dissonantly following its own sense of rhythm. The doom-impending bass line never wavers in its alarming nature, eventuating into a dynamically chaotic almost hip-hop rhythm.
‘Idle Lust’ brings back that familiar raspy, pulsing signal but with a hollow feel to it. This is the most sparse track on the record, but that doesn’t detract from its relevance. Static circuit-board sounds dominate the space, transmitting fuzzy signals all throughout. It’s the perfect build up to what Ken Oath have described as RBJr‘s ‘magnum opus’, ‘Slippery Cheeks’.
This odyssey is nothing but pure vision that unfolds over a massive 12 minutes. We start off by wading through the heavy tar of various gurgling basslines, until a choppy kit comes in, providing the skeleton for the track. Clunky pipe percussion is filter-fed through the background of the track, until it fades and we’re left with a glittering synth providing calmer waters. Cinematic flutes and a quiet choir are added to the mix, the harsh percussive element of the track subsiding while the glorious buildup eventuates into a blinding acid takedown. A relentless breakbeat comes in underneath the 303, making for one hell of a journey through cinematic ideas and electronic textures.
‘SOT’ aptly follows, a calmly restrained number that employs synthesised natural found sounds to contrast the electronic onslaught we just emerged from. Bird calls and programmed waves wash over one another until the staccato of the off-kilter drum n bass set comes in and begins brings it all home.
And finally, we’re left to swim with ‘Ode To Jode’, a manic vocal-driven frenzy exemplifying the replicant path the record has taken thus far. The percussive element of the record comes to a boiling point here, RBJr giving it everything he’s got for one last dystopian dance.
The unrelenting chaos of the record is justifiably balanced with inklings of genre’d sounds, but never once bowing to any form of convention. Roy Batty Jr‘s created a body of work that simultaneously draws you in and alienates you from the first track. It’s uncomfortable listening, but that’s the point. He’s found comfortability in sounds that otherwise might make us feel uncomfortable.
In the context of the dazzling Ken Oath catalogue, this conceptual slice of history of a warm fit.
Photo via Facebook
Words by CAITLIN MEDCALF