Beats and pieces from the humbly skewiff scourge of the discotheque...
'Self Portrait'

Headlined by the big hitting ‘Wonky Bassline Disco Banger’, funky clubbing found riding the glitterball like Miley Cyrus and flavouring plenty of playlists last year, Red Rack’em unloads his autobiographical scattergun. The maverick and multi-tasker Danny Berman fashions what essentially is a loose house album, lightly ruffling feathers with the spirit of big beat.

Avoiding anything that moves straight down the middle is key to ‘Self Portrait’, though Berman is never too all over the place with where he’s firing, managing to host a variety of environments. About the steadiest beats are ‘The Music’ — deep vibes, low lights and enterprising monologues — and ‘Hot Weekend’ featuring the wraith-like City Hayes, rising from a fevered funk bunker. ‘Tomato Pope’, with IMS or ‘Barbarabatiri’ in mind, redubs a foreign film into a kookily fun piece of garage that like ‘Wonky Bassline…’, has the potential to storm the decks as something of a long shot.

On ‘Mad House’ and ‘Sel’, the styles become harder to categorise: B-boying, primal techno and loop practice are all made to get along. Whatever your opinion of them, it’s clear Berman, rummaging through charity shops like Luke Vibert, always goes for stuff in good nick rather than any old junk. The ‘WBDB’ template — smooth, starry, at times wistfully looped beats topped with sample sprinklings and infantile/Les Dawson hands jamming down on the keys — is brought back up on both ‘April Fool’ and ‘Kos Mich’, in turn taking it back to ‘Chinese Electro’ and ‘NG Style’ from Red Rack’em’s previous sturdy box of tricks, ‘The Early Years’ album from 2010.

As entertaining as it can be confusing (more in terms of 'what’s the point' than WTF), and a contrast to Red Rack’em’s last LP (2012’s punk-n-lounge ‘The Damage Is Done’, as Hot Coins), it’s an album that’s more casual selfie than solemn muse, defining random without meaning slapdash, and where there’s fun, but not too much fun.


Words: Matt Oliver

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