. issue X : iv .

by barathron

. artist : template .
. album : drops one .
. year : 2001 .
. label : bloody fist .
. grade : b plus .


An early breakcore masterpiece from infamous Australian label Bloody Fist, Template’s Drops One is a fractured, swaggering, feral piece of scratchy speedcore, with intricate drums panning in swathes, bright lightning-strike melodies blasting and recoiling, a squealing didgeridoo sample, and the obligatory creepy voice over — don’t dance to this record lest you be electrocuted by the accumulated static.

Pithy, cute “Intro” halts a sample to stutter out their name (“The basic template, template, template, template”) strung along a thread of kitschy samples, and closes with a batta-bing gesture. “21%” opens in stark contrast, a cold steel breakcore offering ceaselessly rolling; icy moguls and drippy drums castanet-stamping; mid-range snakes doffing skin after skin; ammunition-spindling Maxims dysregulated and firing in confused bursts; an eminently-timed bridge features a suave voice like Jonathan Schmock as the Chez Quis Maitre D’ in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Did you know that we’ve got 21% of the world’s poker machines in Australia?” Instrumental fills fall into incredible comedic timing, clearing for the aggrandizing alternate affirmation, “Isn’t that incredible? / Yeah.” “21%” takes its time to waggle its way out the space lock in a waveform that’s positively calligraphical. “Fully Industrial A” is telephone-throated warping on hold over uptight drum-n-bass constructions; the crunchiest and most melodious track, “Industrial” sounds, in fact, just barely complacent in the coddle of the industrial age, evolving betwixt rotary pulls and pulse dials; the didgeridoo sounds like an 8-bit bagpipe; with drums like aggies dropped in a crystalline racquetball court slipshod shuffling board. “How’s Work?” is a pied marching band blast; an ant army drum corps marching through ‘Lightning Field,’ a busy signal and busy bee dance senselessly. It’s also the most layered track, with the muffled plopping of an impotent tupperware jug band competing with burnt, ruddy glitching in fifth gear. “How’s Work?” is, as a title choice, the perfect manifestation of Template’s coy, eyebrow-raised not-quite-humor, also evident in their choice of campy sci-fi-rhetorical samples. “Trash” is a hollow pots’n’pans clangor, fun (requisite Oscar The Grouch sample — check), but most one-dimensional. The sounds themselves are intriguing (clatters, gulps, and freeze-frame stammers), but Template excel most with dynamic compositions.

What does Template drop, exactly? A very-50’s matronly hubby (wearing brown knit, starched collar flared, jaw-to-chest pudge, gratuitous eyebrows, high-forehead, wristwatch, graying) cradles a warhead like a changeling infant, delight and solicitation on his face. This record was explosive — the label relates, “This was also the first Bloody Fist 12″ to feature hard-panned percussion. One irate caller to the Bloody Fist office accused us of ‘selling out’ due to the use of ‘stereo’. It really didn’t take much to sell out in those days.“ This exceptional novelty stands the test of time — in fact, it’s stronger for it, as the retro components are exponentially retro, so that Drops One is an anachronistic jostle between the far-past, the relevant-past, and the past-present. The Bloody Fist “punk aesthetic” reminds today’s crowds that a small rewind (and more trash, less flash) is obstinate at heart — and durable in legacy.

by Brittany Tracy