Waveform 059: Fragile X

The 59th addition to our mix series comes from Bricolage top-dog Fragile X, who drops in with a varied mix exploring a wide range of genres. The Waveform Transmitter‘s Ste Knight takes time out to chat to the producer and DJ about the label.

Fans of the braindance or IDM scenes will be all over Glaswegian label, Bricolage. Since 2015, the imprint has amassed a seriously impressive back-catalogue that is fifty-strong in number, and features some of the best underground music you are likely to hear. A wide range of genres falls under the Bricolage umbrella, from melodic electronica, through to acerbic noise compositions, via drum & bass, and techno.

This wide scope is demonstrated perfectly on the label’s most recent VA; 0141. The compilation, the title of which is a clear nod to the label’s Glasgow roots, features as wide an array of styles and artists as Bricolage itself. Fragile X, who runs the imprint and who has recorded today’s mind-bending Waveform Mix, has curated an impressive comp covering the full spectrum of electronic music.

The record builds nicely as we move through its 13 tracks. Ambient scores lead us into the album, with Iain Bethel‘s Chambers and Broken Form‘s Lay Still Beneath the Pylons providing a moment of quiet reflection, before we are maneuvered along an organic electronica path courtesy of Thousand Wolves‘s beautiful Polygon or Primative, which melds together lush guitar licks with spoken word samples.

Fragile X himself makes an appearance with Losing Dreams to Sleep. The track continues the spoken-word theme, layering it over the top of some meticulously arranged breakbeats and cavernous bass stabs. The amusingly named Justin Case sets us off on a slightly more dancefloor friendly trajectory with the skittering electro of Nerotic, before Esef‘s Viral provides the first 4/4 excursion on the album with the Chicago nuances of his acid squirmer.

The energy is quickly ramped-up further with a dose of darkness from C4, whose Time Span recalls elements of Venetian Snares, thanks to its scuddy breakcore beats and doom-laden pads. Blood-curdling hyper-jazz-techno-hybrid, Nudge from No Arrival keeps us on the darker side, before firing us face first into the wall of low-slung electronica provided by Ly Tumnus‘s X.

Danni Rowan sacrifices Heck to the gods, with the drones in her track taking us deeper into the murky depths of electronic sound, where we are held in the vice-like grip of Kill Them With Noise, who promises to do exactly that with the infernal UR.GU.LA. The track bulges and bloats under its own weight as atonal sirens pierce through the gloopy bottom-end.

Wullae Wright drags us straight up into the heavens for his absolutely stunning piano solo, Finish What You Started. This is a fantastic neo-classical track and genuinely pulls at the heartstrings as the keys are deftly worked for the penultimate recording. We close the package with a baptismal sense of rebirth, the gloriously euphoric phased pads and twinkling keys of synthwave number, Dreamland Fantasy‘s As The Rain Comes Down, providing the perfect end to an exceptional album.

The release is also in aid of a very worthy cause, so we suggest you jump to the Bricolage BandCamp page, here, and support the release and the fantastic Golden Jubilee Hospital ICU Unit.

You’re most probably a quarter of the way through Fragile X‘s Waveform Mix so, as you listen to the rest, let’s see what he had to say for himself when he spoke to Ste Knight, recently. As always, you can find the tracklist at the bottom of the page.

 

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Waveform Transmitter: Hi John! Thank you for joining us and for an amazing mix! It is an exciting time for the label, as you have just released your 4th anniversary VA. Congratulations! We believe the record also has certain charitable benefits…

Fragile X: Thank you very much. It’s been a fruitful four years for the label. We’ve slowly but steadily developed things and tried to expand our horizons each year. We started off with purely digital releases and in the last 24 months we’ve moved into the physical release realm and also managed to book our first label live event for the end of this year. So, yes, exciting times indeed!

We try to mark each anniversary with a special release and this years is no different. “0141” is a compilation of weird and wonderful music from the electronic underground in Glasgow. All the revenue generated from the release is being donated to the ICU Unit at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank. It’s a specialist heart and lung hospital. Without going into too much detail, the nurses there helped pull my mum back from the brink last summer after she suffered a major heart attack. This is my way of saying thank you to them.

WT: So, Bricolage has been active for four years. What was the state of play prior to the formation of the collective?

FX: Prior to starting up Bricolage I had been drifting around in the audio void. I had a few releases on some small labels, most of which are sadly now defunct. Shout out to Bath Dub Sounds for giving my first ‘official’ release! During the early days of Soundcloud I found that the platform was a great avenue for support and feedback on music. It felt like a community.

The idea first came to me for a collective around 2010 and I started one with a few music minded friends. We called it Are Friends Eclectic? Not my proudest name choice! It lasted a short while, during which time we released one compilation and put on a small gig in Stirling. It was dead in the water not long after that. I decided to stick to making music for the foreseeable future and tried to hone my skills.

During that time, I continued to listen and learn to how small labels worked and went about their business. In mid 2015, I decided to give it another go. And here we are! Bricolage has now progressed from a collective to a fully formed, small, but independent label. We still have the “collective” tag on various URLs and online sites like our Bandcamp and Discogs pages and I’ll likely keep it as that forever as a nice reminder of where and how we started.

WT: Does the name of the label represent the ethos under which you release music?

FX: Yes, it very much does. Bricolage roughly translates as “do it yourself” in French. The meaning behind the word can also be portrayed in English as “something constructed or created from a diverse range of things”. For me, that perfectly represents what we do.

The name was actually suggested by a French friend of mine, Roman. Before that the shortlist for names was “Beatroot”, “Green Place”, “Amygdala” and much more. I think we got lucky with the suggestion of Bricolage! It just came at the right time. I couldn’t imagine it being anything else now.

WT: Your Waveform mix is quite eclectic – is this also a representation of the label (in a style sense)? Is this how you would normally formulate a mix session?

FX: Oh, most definitely. It’s very representative in that sense. At the label, we refuse to be pigeonholed. There’s no genre bias. No preference. Bricolage is, I suppose, a representation of my own taste in music. In my day to day life I listen to a huge variety of electronic music. I wanted Bricolage to illustrate that point.

My own mixes don’t really have a formula to be honest. It’s whatever I’m feeling at the time. I know that’s probably a pretty generic answer and not really insightful but it is what it is. My mixes tend to veer all over the place and I like to take the listener on a journey through various styles and moods.

If there is one uniformed part of my mixing process then it’s that I usually like to start things off with an ambient/downtempo/trippy tune. I like to call it a “palette cleanser”. Hopefully it grabs the listeners attention, clears the mind and sets the rest of the voyage up nicely. There are times when I skip that method though. For example, if I’m doing an all out techno set then I’ll tend to just jump straight in!

WT: You record as Fragile X. Do you have any other monikers we should be checking out?

FX: Now that would be telling! Fragile X is my main output and with that I can comfortably shift between ambient, broken beats, IDM kinda stuff and experimental soundscapes. If I’m being honest I have way too many aliases to mention. I’ve been making music for around half of my life. 17 years to be exact. In that time I’ve released under 13 different aliases. Some of them on Bricolage and some on other various independent labels.

My friends and family are aware of 12 of these aliases. I like to keep one for myself that nobody knows. Even the label that the material is released on are unaware that it’s a Fragile X side project. Top secret!

The main alias that I have public are Leit Motif which is a drone/ambient/IDM project. It started off as nothing more than just a Soundcloud dumping ground for some of my more downtempo stuff. But three years ago I was asked to do a live ambient session for the Berlin based Soundscape Versions and Leit Motif grew legs from there to a fully formed side project.

My other public one is a collaborative project called futurendeavours with an anonymous friend. We tend to make experimental electronic expeditions ranging from anywhere between 9-15 minutes long. 9/10 it’s done in one take and is sample laden, looped kinda stuff. It can be techno, breaks, electro. Whatever takes our fancy!

WT: Your label is based in Glasgow, so…can you name three Scottish electronica artists you think our readers should keep an eye out for?

FX: I could name way more than three! This is a tough one to narrow down. I may also be a bit biased…

If you’re looking for club ready rhythms and heavy duty low end then I’d recommend checking out my good friend, Boom Merchant. This man knows how to put a beat together! He also runs the label Tribal Pulse which has became somewhat of an underground treasure in the city. He’s one of the hardest working producers and promoters that I know and is starting to reap the rewards with gigs and releases all over the world. Keep an eye out for sure.

If you’re looking for something different with each listen then look no further than our very own, Justin Case. He somehow manages to marry unconventional patterns and sounds into cohesive units. He portrays so many styles in so many ways. The music can be hard to describe to people but I like it that way. No need to explain, just listen and you’ll understand. We released his debut EP on Bricolage last July and also just released a special split EP in August that featured Justin Case and Texas native, Devras Plexi. Both of those releases capture his off-kilter sound perfectly.

Away from the clubs and straight up dance orientated stuff I would heavily recommend digging deep into the back catalogue of No Arrival. He’s another artist that we’ve had on the label. In 2017 we released his ‘The Chance To Fail’ EP on Bricolage and earlier this year put out his genre hopping masterpiece ‘Subvert Yourself’. The latter is one of the labels most popular releases to date. ‘No Arrival’ can effortlessly switch between light and dark, slow and rapid, atmospheric and all out audio assault. An electronic chameleon.

Boom Merchant:  https://soundcloud.com/boom-merchant
Justin Casehttps://soundcloud.com/ahchooo
No Arrivalhttps://soundcloud.com/modern-slavery

WT: OK, we do this to everyone; top three dancefloor destroyers…GO!

FX: Cave – ID (Original Mix)

This is a slice of chaos. No big explanation needed.

Hollen – Bitty (Original Mix)

I’m not ashamed to say that there was a period between 2014-2017 where I played this without fail EVERY single time I would DJ. It always went down well thankfully. I’ve always loved the build up to and the release of the acid lines in it. It evolves perfectly and peaks at just the right time.

Troya – Schizophrenic (‘King Of Spin’ Remix)

I’m gonna let you in on one of my secret weapons with this one! An absolute frenetic monster of a tune and the producer also a back story worth looking into. Tessa Greer (aka Troya) released a few hard hitting tribal techno vinyl from 2000 to 2001 and now works as a sound healer and founded the Beat ‘n’ Track Music Education Centre in 2003. Seriously, look her up. It’s a captivating story.

WT: Thank you John for joining us! Best of luck with your 0141 release and all of Bricolage’s future releases!

FX: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure chatting to you. The platform for myself and the label on The Waveform Transmitter is greatly appreciated. You guys are helping keep the fire burning in the underground. Keep up the good fight!


Stick with us, as we have plenty of awesome mixes in the pipeline. Also, check out our Secret Weapons artist playlists, there are LOADS of gems hidden within those pages…

TRACKLIST

01. Lostep – Burma (Trafik’s AM Rub)
02. The Arc – Something Wonderful
03. Late – Dreams Are
04. The Ambientist – 5
05. Justin Case – Passaic Formation
06. Fragile X – A Cloud Is Not A Sphere (Unreleased)
07. Higher Intelligence Agency – M+T=E
08. LTJ Bukem – Atmospherical Jubilancy
09. Makoto – Wave
10. PFM – Wash Over Me

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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