Luo - Convoluted Mess Machine

26 Oct 2021 - Gene

Experimental, Electronic, Jazz, Avant-Garde | Art As Catharsis | Release date: 15 Oct 2021

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Only every now and again will you come across something innovative, brilliant, humorous and perfectly executed. This is the one. Here it is. You’re welcome.

It is safe to say that I don’t quite know what is happening here. I’ll be the first to fess up. I’ve given over to the gut reaction now. And my gut says this EP is incredibly promising. The last such recording I came across to lend my wordless disbelief such mesmeric uncertainty was Woven’s 2001 EPrime. That random find proved an unfounded eye-opening example of genre-fluid, texture-rich, frenetically percussive, inspiration in raw form – very much like this little teaser we have at hand – of some kind of brilliant underground outlier I could not yet fathom. I get the same feeling here and now. Of a complex moody symphony built with as few instruments as incidentally possible but managing to say, and feel, so much. Where did this idea come from?

I want to point to early adopters like Depeche Mode, Portishead and Massive Attack for their flex on electronics at a time when the lines did not yet blur so easily, coming out of the Metal and Grunge eras, as I had done. It wasn’t as prevalent as it seems now (wasn’t it, though?). Yet, some of these bands had lead singers, industrial rock elements, pop structures even! And other aspects that weren’t entirely alien at the time. This was still rock. Sort of. I missed the boat on Can and the like, only to circle back a few years and detours later. I took the hard road out of classic rock hell. I was certainly not ready. Not ready for the Convoluted Mess Machine.

This feels like a record firmly in the Zappa school of artistry as opposed to, say, the Beatles school. A record owing its flair to Billy Cobham rather than Billy Corgan. To acts like Aphex Twin. Someone remixed Buckethead jamming with Les Claypol, basically. So here is an outing so wildly creative it begs a section of the shop all to itself. It joins a few other records in my collection I like to think of as ”the curiosities”, which includes the eccentric works of Paisiel, Le_mol, and fellow Aussies Tangents, to name a few. That section impinges nicely on the mathy tweaker shit in the collection nearest the darkjazz stack and what you get is, well everything you can want at any time all at once, of course! For that is the way of the tweaker shit. That is the way of Convoluted Mess Machine. It gives and takes, it would seem.

Of course, in the interim, this kind of experimentalism, generally speaking, has become more common as artists seek increasingly idiosyncratic forms of expression, or simply find freedom in applying the only tools they possess, which these days means culling from a rich musical history. And this little EP by Luo should top that list if for no other reason than their distinctive fusion: a confluence of IDM, sound design, Jazz and Metal that absolutely crushes!

My only complaint is that this is criminally short. But oh they knew how art can tease. Here I am replaying the damn thing ad nauseam just to lose myself in its plethora of jazzy voicings, busy time signatures, glitchy creepy meanderings and all that badass low-end. I just can’t get enough. Luckily for me the short runtime is matched to a written and spoken accompaniment at least as obscure. You can call it a tongue-in-cheek manifesto or “Fitter Happier” on Adderall. In short, all touchstones aside, this EP is wildly creative, super funky, very fun, and I really want to see this material longform. Extremely eager for more of this. Supersize me. Make it spicy!