HADDOCK is the alter ego of studio and live drummer JonoMagro. Formed officially in 2013, the gestation period for this music has actually been ten years. After trying to find a replacement for the monotony of a metronome, he found that juxtaposing real live drumming with the precision of electronic instrumentation and sounds created a fascinating musical dichotomy.
As a seasoned drummer, he had immense experience behind the kit but had to modify it to fit the demands of his new project. That was the genesis for this five track E.P. rEVOLVED. The five instrumentals are a perfect balance between synthetic electronica and real, expressive drumming.
You can certainly recognize elements of his various influences. Among them, he lists Daft Punk, The Prodigy and film composers like Tyler Bates and Hans Zimmer. It all combines to create a unique style and sound that has the excitement and dynamism of dance with the brooding intensity of soundtrack music.
Opening track Kilgore is an excellent example of this, starting with pulsing low-end synths combining with dark high-end melodies to set an intense tone. Then the punchy,raw sounding drums enter with the impact of a breakbeat by The Prodigy, but this beat is constantly shifting under the listener’s feet in a 14/8 time signature.
This later becomes standard 4/4 and 2/4 later in the track and the way he constantly shifts the accents and syncopates the beat is superbly inventive. The synth riffs holds the music together, aided by some Daft Punk style vocoder effects towards the end of this arresting first track.
Second track Break is lighter in mood and features a repeated vocal sample throughout, which works as a good hook. The drumming on this one alternates between a standard four-to-the-floor dance beat to the highly intricate, almost tribal sounding tom-tom patterns of the middle section. Musically, it employs two synth melodies, both short and very catchy. You could really imagine this being played in a club and going down a storm, especially as the danceable beat stays constant throughout.
Detroit Slim, the third track, is a big change in sound as it features an electronic Daft Punk style 2/4 disco beat that most would assume is a drum machine (presumably played by triggering samples through his modified drum kit). This makes it pure electronica in the house/disco genre, with some funky synth riffs and more vocoder effects thrown into the mix. It’s another track perfect for the dancefloor, but very enjoyable to simply listen to.
Cave Thing again employs mostly electronic soundings drums but also incorporates the snare sound from the ‘real’ kit in parts. This track is my personal favourite on the E.P. as it seems the perfect encapsulation of the disparate musical elements involved. It features a superb hi-hat heavy dance beat (bringing to mind 90’s stadium house duo The KLF) which grabs you as soon as it enters. It has the brooding intensity of the first track with rising synth lines and insistent EDM-style snare fills that help maintain the tension.
The final track My Salvation continues in this style, though this time uses an almost hymnal synth melody over a deceptively fast house beat, and has a futuristic, soundtrack feel (think something like Blade Runner.) Its hectic BPM rate would make it a great track to finish a DJ set with and it makes a fitting finale to this E.P.
Intriguingly, right at the end, the original drum sound that we heard at on the first couple of tracks returns, bringing things full circle. Finally, the drums fade out leaving us in a sea of synth sounds…
Overall, this is a genuinely innovative and original piece of work that also manages to be accessible and commercial. It blended and balances elements of dance and rock, as well as human and synthetic very successfully, and every single track has a strong sonic identity which isn’t easy to achieve with instrumental music. With some very intriguing ideas for performing this live also, I think Haddock will become known as a pioneer in the electronica scene and look forward to hearing a whole album.
Verdict: 8.8 out of 10