Wow, wow, WOW… behold this stupendous archival offering from Offen Music: a deeply mesmerising, narco-romantic, dub-me-crazy collision of fourth world ambience, polyrhythmic techno, minimal synth and bombed-out breakbeats from the mind of Yugoslavian artist Mirar Subotic.
Subotic’s sterling, otherworldly industrial experiments as Rex Ilusivii have been showcased on a brace of previous Offen releases, but that formidable body of work frankly pales in comparison next to this life-affirming, pigeonhole-obliterating 2LP, which Subotic recorded in Sao Paulo in 1995. It’s top-to-bottom stunning, with a make-up that will speak powerfully to all but the most impoverished ears: stately, sumptuous synth themes with a hint of new age uplift but generally leaning towards a darker, cold wave-via-Detroit drone-psychology and intensity; heavy basslines, vocal cut-ups and dense layers of African percussion that extrapolate from the paranoid urban funk of My Life In The Bush of Ghosts and Liquid Liquid and the searching, ethno-psychedelic reggae impulse of Jah Wobble’s Lago years, and strapped to low-slung, decelerated B-boy breaks that sound like they were beamed in from Smith & Mighty’s St Pauls bunker.
Yes, there’s an unmistakeable Balearic vibe to proceedings, but in the most intrepid, drug-damaged, prelapsarian sense - not dad-disco-limp or cosy or twee…on the contrary, Wayang exudes an unwavering heaviness and DREAD throughout, albeit of the most subtle, grievously earned and strangely blissy kind - it's not a stretch to see an affinity with the outer limits of New Beat and even the embryonic Goa sound...no-holds-barred, bad-meaning-good-trip, slow-motion TRANCE. With its sampled tribal (for want of a better word) voices and MDMA-rush electronics, there are moments where it feels like Future Sound of London dragged through the thorny hedge of the industrial avant-garde backwards - and you can't say fairer than that.
OK you could also just go right ahead and call it trip-hop, but, as Offen point out, if this record had reached the audience it deserved in 1995, it would’ve made Mo'Wax music sound frumpy. On the one hand, this album is a bolt from the blue, but on the other it binds all our current enthusiasms and preoccupations in a way that feels logical, necessary..inevitable, even. In other words, if Wayang didn't exist, we would have had to make it up.