Disrupt - Foundation Bit

George Bass 14/10/2007

What would happen if Yardie priests took a bitcore nerd under their wing and gave him free reign with the stereo? Liepzig-born Jan Gleichmar confronts the challenge with his latest release Foundation Bit, laying to rest any flashbacks to Mick Hucknall's dreadlock years that such a union could potentially initiate. Though his main passion lies loyally with bleeps and bass, Gleichmar is obviously something of a sci-fi nut, imbuing many of his record's ten tracks with more samples than a supermarket cheeseboard. Bomb 20 chops up John Carpenter's Dark Star until it's reimagined as some fruity Thatcherite ska, subtitled by the bleatings of a frantic Doolittle as he tries desperately to reason with his sentient ordnance, and the brilliantly-titled Tubby Rom Module namechecks another geek icon: Ian Holm's eggnog-drenched head as it slyly patronises his doomed Nostromo shipmates. Gleichmar's accompaniment, though, is a radical departure from Jerry Goldsmith's bleak effort, and swaps lean and menacing strings for some blacksmith ambience, a bassline hefty as a seven-and-a-half Leftism tonner and some synths stolen straight from an 80s Michael Douglas thriller. Low volume is not an option.

It's not just the big screen where Gleichmar nurtures his muse, however, and Foundation Bit's forty-one minutes glisten with influences from both sides of his musical interests. With its detective noir sax and vocal wobbliness, the epic title track sounds like The Orb's Towers Of Dub remixed by Lt. Columbo himself, while Jah Red Gold And Green seems to soundtrack Aswad adrift in virtual reality. From start to finish, the record is steeped in the same dubby bongsmoke that Echospace guzzled for their Coldest Season LP, and Gleichmar displays an understanding in the use of gassy harmonies and SFX as instruments as deftly as anyone on the Type payroll. His balance of Game Boy microchips and instrumental reggae corroborate the commitment to his 'Jahtari' philosophy, and the Jamaican swagger that runs through his music is near impossible to resist, regardless of your sonic allegiance. If you're even remotely curious to discover what a Speak&Spell would sound like if it swallowed a Rasta module (how could you not be?) then Foundation Bit is worth investigating. Gleichmar is a man with a clear agenda, and one you find yourself warming to almost in spite of yourself. Like basic training or diagonal sandwiches.