Rural Manifesto – smokey.t (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The strange and beguiling spoken word intro to the wonderfully named Made in Snoring pretty much sets out the mission statement for the man behind the Rural Manifesto. Over odd, meandering and slowly building electronic ripples he underlines the much held view that, compared to the city, everything that takes place in the countryside is much slower-ower-ower…. True, except for one major exception, that being the burgeoning underground music scenes found in such green and pleasant landscapes which seem active disproportional to the slow paced idyll they call home. And Rural Manifesto is both proof of and music about just such an idea.

And so Mr .t takes us off down some unexpected sonic byways, mixing hypnotic and relentless grooves and bubbling synth washes with more than a touch of humour. Who else would title a track “Big Eared Boys” and then include samples from Alan Partridge? And guess what? Aha! It works a treat, being both infectiously groovy and endlessly funny too, proving as always that the best way to approach music is to simultaneously not take yourself too seriously but be professional about the making of the music.

Flight 361 is wonderfully glitchy with an unexpectedly staccato vibe allowing plenty of space between the beats and layering together unexpected music textures, offbeat sound inclusions and shuffling rhythms. It is dance music but not as we know it, not so much trying to push any boundaries as merely shrugging its shoulders and giving a quizzical look to the whole notion of musical boundaries in the first place.

And he seems to have left the weirdest till last…weird is a good thing right? Of course, what’s so great about normality and conformity anyway? Benard’s Boootiful Bass is anything but conformist, instead merging industrial beats with spacious ambient washes, alternative dance floor designs with samples from old commercials for turkey products…as inspired as it is eclectic.

smokey.t has pretty much restored my faith in club culture, for too long the scene has been dominated by slick DJ super-stars who take themselves and their music far too seriously. So it is great to come across someone who is standing up for the provinces, the small backwaters where perhaps the most radical musical experiments are being carried out. But it is the self-deprecation that I love the most…the occasional mooing of cows and mentions of Long Stanton Spice Museum not just referenced in the background but used as integral parts of the tracks. How can someone knock your rural credentials when you have got their first and in doing so made them somehow cool and somehow work for you?

How smart is that? I’ll tell you…very smart indeed.

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