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Warped speed

Local IDM producer Richard Devine's Lip service actually delivers

Could it be that, after a series of acclaimed EPs containing his take on distorted ambience, Richard Devine's decision to release the full-length Lipswitch on a Miami (home to things jiggy and jiggly) label — Schematic, a label of which he's part owner — is a result of the local neo-electro producer finally putting more bass in your face, more bounce to the ounce?
Or maybe it's the climate of the times, as cats who grew up on hip-hop and synth-pop know that, in the wake of tracks such as OutKast's "Bombs Over Baghdad," keeping it real now equals keeping it real boring. Through Schematic, Devine — along with Atlanta's Scott Herren and Miami-based Phoenecia, among others — has produced America's own Warped version of Autechre-influenced electro and the kind of glitchy tracks you'd expect on Aphex Twin's Rephlex imprint.
After all, Devine's ominous oeuvre already includes a remix of Aphex Twin himself — a version of "Come to Daddy" featured on the Warp 10-year anniversary Remixes compilation. But despite how it may seem to casual listeners of the sometimes-abrasive style begrudgingly known as IDM (intelligent dance music), Devine's sound doesn't simply ape Aphex Twin's. It's intricate, like the early work of drum 'n' bass minimalist producer Photek, but less cerebral in that it doesn't sound like it's made solely for a sterile environment, where every beat and digitally-processed signal has been analyzed.
If you like breakdancing in scrap yards during operating hours, Devine's stuff is downright playful. Devine's sounds are far from rusty, but they can be infectious, requiring a tetanus shot as they burrow under the skin, disorienting yet compelling, like the lumbering man-machine hybrid in cult-film Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Hell, one German magazine even reports that it's producing the same kind of excitement Slayer did. While I might not go that far with it, it does have a metallic element — cold machinery radiating the warmth of high-speed, high-efficiency friction.
Devine's music (the music of almost every IDM-maker, for that matter) can be somewhat pegged as sounding a lot like computers handshaking over high-speed networks, beats rolling wildly like change from a phreaker's pocket as he races from a phone booth. It can sound like the exchange of pulse tones, or like a computer fan sputtering or like any number of mechanical parts grinding against one another. Actually, recording objects — some as strange as archaic surgical gear — while they grind isn't farfetched at all; it's done by IDM artists such as Pan Sonic and Matmos. In fact, some producers seem to be clamoring to rezone the genre known as industrial, now that what we call industrial sounds more like synth-pop and it's IDM that often harks back to the confrontational and compelling (once past the sheet-metal blinders) early days of Cabaret Voltaire, Skinny Puppy and Frontline Assembly.
So maybe it's accurate to describe Lipswitch in industrial terms. It brings to mind Bjork's character, Selma, in the recent film, Dancer in the Dark — swept into an imaginary world of song and dance from the golden age of musical cinema by the seemingly chaotic patterns of factory machinery that reveal their rhythmic undertones. Devine's music has a similar sense of personality — the kind that needs you to pay attention to recognize a classical sort of melodic movement sweeping through the clang and swoosh of sine waves. He creates machines that whisper interplanetary poetic fragments, filtered through computer algorithms to emerge as constantly shifting patterns of jittery breakbeats mutating before your ears.
I doubt you'll hear Lipswitch booming out of the lowriders cruising South Beach any time soon, but I'm positive you'll hear people talking about the album's futuristic funk — one that simultaneously puts us in a trance and makes our booties twitch and itch for more progressive dance floors. Or else the factory showroom. u
Richard Devine celebrates the release of Lipswitch at "Sensual Assault," the first of a planned series of IDM nights, Wed., Jan. 17, at the Fountainhead Lounge in East Atlanta village. Visuals will be provided by subMedia VJ the stimulator. There will also be a drum 'n' bass set by Urbal (formerly of Safari Sound System), as well as anime-inspired art by Jason Kemp.