Warped Voodoo: ONLY NOW – Self Titled Tape Review + Stream
ONLY NOW is a new musical project by East Bay-born and now San Francisco-based dub producer Kush Arora. A fixture of SF’s underground club scene, Kush has been featured in The Wire, Spin Magazine, XLR8R, Fact Magazine, SF Guardian and countless outlets for his notable work in the tropical bass, dancehall and crossover scene. His remixes and collaborations span artists as diverse as Balkan Beat Box to Elephant Man, but this project marks a new beginning for him. After years away of experimentation in African percussion and industrial sound, Kush Arora decided to launch Only Now to explore new forms of sonic architecture dipped in apocalyptic fantasies. Influenced by his more traditional excursions in the niche scenes kuduro, dark afrohouse and tribal sounds, he aimed to fuse it with tuned metal, voice and proto real synthesis. Influences can be heard from Buraka Som Sistema to Wax Trax Records, and haunting film soundtracks pepper the record, but at the core of it lies unbridled experimentation and a wall of sonic low end.
This self-titled tape by the Bay Area producer kicks off on an ominous note, with the spooky and liquefied rhythms of “Mid Riot,” a percussive sand-blasting to the senses that is capable of bringing back to mind the best mid-career Scorn tangled with Roni Size. Following track, “Needs,” makes the listener plunge deeper into this word of textured and warped bass and sinister rhythms, and this is where the African and voodoo-like hysteria of the percussion section really grabs a hold of you, dragging you into a sonic maelstrom of tribal and exotic ritualism. Only Now here appears like a frantic, more spastic and more cyberpunk version of Spiritchaser-era Dead Can Dance, fused together with Tehcno Animal, assuring for a puzzling but glorious trance-inducing track. “Inside The Mineral Room” is the most laid back moment of the record. The almost entirely percussion-less track is a careful and masterful layering of shoegaze-tinged synths and glitchy overtones that bring to mind both Amon Tobin and Boards of Canada bathing in a pool of melancholy and transcendence. “Only Power” brings back the tribal sprawl and crumbling industrial rhythms showcased in the opening moments of the album, but presents them to us in a more hallucinated and unpredictable pattern, driven by odd and chopped up time signatures and by intermittent synth patterns that create a sense of loss of balance and vertigo in the listener. Something that shifts your pole of balance, putting you in an oblique state of mind. In the end, the track opens up into a vast and bleeding wall of guitar-like, shoegazy feedback that rises like a tidal wave at the horizon, creating some pretty amazing apocalyptic atmospheres. “No Escape” is one of the darkest moments of this tape. The track is a bass-heavy, lighting-cracked slab of twisted metal and gnawing rhythms that twists and morphs in and out of various styles like a mutant cyberpunk monstrosity. Scorn’s Stealth comes back to mind, but so do Skinny Puppy, Coil and Prurient. Closing track “Dante” further expands upon the works central fixture, the African percussions, melting them down into a sea of molten static and buzzing ambience and meshing everything into a spooky and haunting plasma of beats, dark ambient and collapsing rhythms that are both puzzling in their mesmerizing abstraction and threatening in the dark and driving tones.
Only Now’s debut tape has dropped June 2nd on the East Bay Area’s RecordLabelRecords, a label founded by Fluorescent Grey, and that he started while he and Kush were in high school. The label carries some of the most oddball experimental and cultural hybrids around these days – always uncompromising music, ranging from sounds reminiscent of the aforementioned Scorn to Japan’s Contagious Orgasm, to Dalglish. Fans of dark, dripping, bass-heavy industrial dub hybrids can not miss out on this release. Get the tape from the label or from the band, and if you live in or around the Bay Area, don’t miss Kush playing an opening set at the Elbo Room in San Francisco on Friday August 21 for none other than Cut Hands, the new solo project by William Bennett of Whitehouse fame.