The Nag's Head
Named lovingly after the venerable boozer from Only Fools and Horses, The Nag's Head is the sonic moniker of Brighton artist Stephen Maskell. Combining on the fly recordings, kitchen sink instrumentation and addictively constructed beats, Maskell's music is - as one customer puts it - at times moving, at time hilarious and sometimes just great dance music.
His four Kit releases make up some kind of psychedelic sonic map of England. We start off somewhere near Elephant and Castle roundabout, with Live From Concrete Island: a head-spinning tapestry of street recordings, crushed cityscapes, YouTube rips, melodic techno and plenty of steel drums. This beams across like a JG Ballard-esque broadcast from a sunny dystopia, nailing the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. For the city’s lolloping, dubby percussion we reach deep into its guts, pulling out a squiggly bricolage of pistons, pool balls, window frames, jets of steam...
Second in the series, Luxury Slime Vortex erupts like the Shard shrouded in metallic cloud voodoo, all sharp and pointy and terrifying. This is shivering, chewy techno constructed at breakbeat velocity with dizzying textural scale. The title track goes off like a grenade in a biscuit tin, all buckling metal and half-submerged Miami Bass chants, before eating itself in a tangle of nitrate film.
For the third instalment, Gluud Und Scruud, we land in the midst of a road-rage altercation on Canvey Island. While LFCI was a mostly breezy journey through the various blends of multicultural England, this is pretty much the opposite: dark VHS rips and paranoid earthy gloops with rare moments of joy shining through, all stuck together with Maskell's own wistfully weird brand of techno. This crashes into earshot like a wildly edited scrapbook of Euro-chintz and depressed seaside resort towns, shot through with bass music culture: a fitting end to a project that made us start the label in the first place.
Following this trilogy of tapes, ENTROPY NOODLE is Maskell's first LP proper, and signals a maturation of sound - bending, twisting and manipulating synthesis to explore every microtonal corridor of the sonic spectrum. Gone are the radio toasts, gloopy video snippets and provincial ephemera, as every soggy beer mat and bent dart in The Nag's Head is raptured upwards into the stellar vacuum.