Words: James Frostick
Artist image: Emily Herbert
Simon Maisch from Melbourne/Naarm-based post-punk outfit Bitumen is stepping away from slithering industrial sonics with his new iso-project The Werm. Dipping into the realm of subterranean club music, Simon has fashioned a five-track EP of addled groove called Skincrawlin‘. We’re stoked to be premiering the visuals of the EP’s title track, which boasts mulched-up elements of conventional breakbeat that have been refashioned into a sublime slice of snappy downtempo EDM.
While the pandemic lockdown has largely prevented Bitumen (and countless other bands) from gathering to hammer out new tunes, bassist Simon Maisch has spent a chunk of 2020’s COVID-enforced down time pushing his drum machine to the limit as The Werm. His recent experimental forays into the realms of breakbeat, jungle, hip-hop and house have yielded some interesting by-products. His new EP Skincrawlin‘ is a tasteful reflection of his club and post-punk inspirations – dynamic compositions that showcase a talent for balancing muddy murk and crisp undeniable unce. The EP’s lead single and title track is an exemplary display of this dynamic: an amalgam of stutter-stepping breakbeats, deep sonorous fuzz and wiry synth wriggle. ‘Skincrawlin” seems perfectly suited to an underground rave – walls slick with condensation, glinting strobes illuminating swaying silhouettes and a constant vibration reverberating up from the ground into my chest. The syrupy strut sets the track (Simon describes it as “jungle-lite”) apart from its more thumping contemporaries – a savvy bucking of genre norms resulting in something singular (don’t worry, though – the pace does ratchet up on the EP itself). Simon has also crafted some visuals to accompany the track – a collection of VHS-C camcorder footage distorted and played with (video titling contributed by Joshua Watson) to create a suitable wonky addition. Watch it here:
I won’t do too deep into the rest of the EP (I recommend diving in on your own when you can), but I will say that Simon has managed to cover a lot of ground across four tracks. After the molasses-like groove of of ‘Skincrawlin” comes the frenetic rapid-fire gabber of ‘Run Faster’ – all breakneck pandemonium and wide-eyed mania. ‘F.I.L.T.H.’ drops the tempo once more for a succession of polluted bass drops – the whole track sounding like the ominous clomp of an unhinged coal-powered murder bot (creaky and cranky). ‘J Phreak’ – one track most stylistically similar to ‘Skincrawlin” – is a mishmash of samples, clipped breaks, warped bass squelches and haunted synthesiser consonance. It’s good gear. The final track is a killer remix of ‘Skincrawlin” by Blood Groove – the pseudonym of Robert Jordan, who assembles experimental electronic kits as Cat Full of Ghosts Electronics. The whole EP is now live – you can score it digitally via The Werm’s Bandcamp page below. You’ll be glad you did.