Over the last decade, we’ve come accustomed to Jason Letkiewicz releasing material under a dizzying array of aliases, each utilized to explore a different side of his multi-faceted musical persona. Now, some 14 years after he made his recording debut, Letkiewicz has joined forces with Into The Light Records to release his first album under his real name. ‘The Reflecting Pool’ sees Letkiewicz exploring the uncomplicated and uncluttered in the pursuit of pure aural beauty. The album is stripped back, quiet, melodious is drawing more on Letkiewicz’s love of crystalline ambient, slow burn synthesizer soundscapes, early ’80s library music and the kind of obscure electronic new age music. The set’s 12 tracks gently ebb and flow, with Letkiewicz making great use of dusty old drum machines, effects units and a range of vintage analogue and digital synthesizers. With ‘The Reflecting Pool’, Letkiewicz has provided us with a much-needed dose of stress-free musical escapism, at the same time offering hope that in these troubling times, love may still save the day.
Jason Letkiewicz has always swum against the musical tides, flitting between different solo pseudonyms (including Steve Summers, Death Commando and Alan Hurst) and collaborative projects (most notably Mutant Beat Dance) in order to explore different aspects of his leftfield inspirations. With his latest release, a first full-length outing for Artificial Dance entitled ‘Mirage Information’, the Chicago-based artist is operating under an alias that celebrates this approach: Opposing Currents. It’s an alias he’s used once before – for a track featured on Chronditic Sound’s 2015 cassette compilation Non-Christian Referent – but ‘Mirage Information’ sounds like an artistic rebirth. Densely layered, mind-altering and often intense, the album’s seven tracks update the Cold War paranoia and pulsating electronics of EBM and industrial music for today’s complex and chaotic political climate. Throughout, Letkiewicz smothers off-kilter drum machine rhythms and throbbing, body-jacking synthesizer basslines in untold layers of hazy audio detail, creating a dystopian sound soup out of which alien electronic melodies, psychedelic acid lines and barely audible vocals emerge. At times, such as on angry opener ‘Lying Awake’, the extra-terrestrial ‘Dissolve’ and foreboding ‘Shallow Grave’, we’re invited to dance in the darkness in celebration of impending doom. On other occasions, such as the poignant and melancholic closing cut ‘It Awaits’, Letkiewicz simply seems exasperated at the chaos that is life in the 21st century. It makes for a genuinely arresting and thought-provoking listen.
Mutant Beat Dance has returned to Rush Hour. The debut album from renegade trio Mutant Beat Dance (Traxx, Beau Wanzer and Steve Summers) takes the wild and free sound of Chicago’s Music Box era into the 21st Century. Over 25 tracks the album mines an oft cited but rarely understood ground at the intersection of Post-Punk, Minimal Wave, Industrial, Disco Dub, EBM and proto-House / early-House. “Mutant Beat Dance.” is an epic journey into a classic American ideology that had its apex in Chicago. Traxx has been working on this concept in various forms throughout the last decade on release for Discos Capablanca, Rong Music, Hour House Is Your Rush Records, L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems), Light Sounds Dark, Rush Hour and his own Nation label finally refining his concept into its most thoroughly developed explored on this the debut M.B.D album that was started in 2015. Mutant Beat Dance was originally a duo made up of Traxx, and self-described weirdo, Chicagoan Beau Wanzer. Given the scope of the new project it became logical and necessary to expand the unit to include its newest member Brooklyn based Steve Summers. Together this hard-working trio has completed an album with an enormous diversity of song styles unlike anything they have ever done before. Unique in its musical range and content from obscure electronics with subliminal messages to funk laden machine grooves, industrial soundscapes, Detroit dirge, cryptic ankle bitter anthems and beyond this is a genre-bending challenging epic of an album.
vinyl / CD
The prolific Jason Letkiewicz returns to his Steve Summers alias for a suite of post-apocalyptic jack tracks. Across labels like L.I.E.S., Future Times, Echovolt, Nation and Clone, Letkiewicz spent the last decade exploring dimensional rifts between techno, house, noise, ambient and more. After occupying nearly as many cities as monikers he’s landed in Chicago and on local outpost Clear.
Jason Letkiewicz isn’t some fashionista. His efforts predate whatever you want to call the current wave of interest in club music. For his first release on Valcrond Video he offers two tracks as Steve Summers. “Always” builds up as a web of metallic syncopation pulsing with threat. A dangerous motif swerves in like pissed-off porpoises, slick with black grime after an oil spill. Vocals show up: they sound like somebody kidnapped a larynx and forced it to MC at the center of a badass board game. A disembodied voice box in the middle of a cardboard landscape. On “Resist” that same captive voice rings through a metal hockey mask, as the instrumental elements seem to narrate an assault in progress. We’re taping you down to the table, don’t bother to resist. On the B side a Torn Hawk remix takes “Always” to never-never land; the malice of the original track gets dressed up with puffy orange clouds (Cheetos). Traditions go in the toilet, return to the fundamental river, only to wash up in the reeds, fresh again . A melodic explosion hides at the center of the progression under hospital-grade gauze; C-4 strapped to the chest of a stuffed bunny suicide bomber.