Sunday, July 8, 2007
Photek - The Fifth Column
Photek - "The Fifth Column"
The Hidden Camera was the first CD I ever special ordered from a store, and along with the Ni Ten Ichi Ryu single, was the usual soundtrack for my brother and I whenever we played pool in our basement or Wing Arms on my Sega Saturn. Maybe neither of us had been exposed to very much drum and bass before this, but I doubt that I would have been drawn in by anything that didn't seem as complex or "intelligent" as this, which, for better or worse, was just what I was looking for after overdosing on The Prodigy. As for my brother, he later got into Propellerheads and Dieselboy before being sucked into the void of progressive trance, the choice soundtrack of streetracers and custom import-driving obsessives worldwide. It's troubling that I still think there was something wrong with this, and that he'd have somehow been better off sitting in his room listening to The Orb like I did instead of going out and getting his kicks while he was still young enough to get away with it.
The Hidden Camera and Ni Ten Ichi Ryu were later compiled onto the Risc vs. Reward EP. The thought of having all that on just one CD, even though I had all the tracks on seperate discs, seemed too good to be true. This was years before I had a CD burner, and even longer before stores started selling blank CDs as dirt cheap loss leaders. I made due with taping both discs onto one cassette to play in the car, and lived with that until the release of Modus Operandi, which contained seven new tracks plus "The Hidden Camera," "K.J.Z," and "The Fifth Column."
"The Fifth Column" is far from my favorite Photek track, never approaching his most ominous or paranoid moments, nor giving off the lush, warm glow that so many of his pieces radiate. His use of Asian instruments -- whether based on a genuine appreciation for such traditional sounds or a simple fascination with martial arts and samauri films -- is on full display here, though the dazzling and complex breakbeats he's capable of are nowhere to be found. The central beat is too broken, too slow to dance to, but when I first heard it, seemed more original and wierd than almost anything I'd ever heard. More than almost any other track, "The Fifth Column" fed my growing addiction to drumming on tabletops with my hands, a habit that probably confused many of my friends at the time. If any real drummers had ever witnessed me trying to do this, they probably would have turned away in disgust.
I was as shocked and disappointed as anyone when Solaris came out a few years later, but time has revealed my ignorance. It's a fine album and should have received all the praise that was mistakenly heaped onto Luomo and his boring, boring music.