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- 18 Tracks, 2.32.34
'Shake' - Released 11/11/13 with remixes from:
JD Twitch from Optimo/Simon Baker/Debukas
Taken from the debut album 'I Am Machinery'
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He’s a one-man synth orchestra, that Debukas. Those beautiful layers of yearning vocals, the Detroit strings, the coruscating hi-hats and drums that speak of years at the altar of house and techno’s venerated gods. I Am Machinery is somewhat apt.
Debukas was born in 2011, though the seeds of it were sewn much earlier. Echoes of its influences go back to Gary Numan singles, teenage forays into the world of Junos and Casios, 808 State and early Warp, Transmat and Metroplex, Arthur Russell and Gino Soccio. It’s all there in the primordial Celtic soup that comprises Debukas.
John Clark was born somewhat earlier. You may or may not have heard about some of his previous exploits. He had a brief dalliance with pop infamy in Japan. There was a series of bands large and small and collaborations so brief John is still not sure they really happened.
I Am Machinery is one of the most complete electronic albums you’ll hear this year – or any other, for that matter. Those years spent toiling in bands has given him a mean ear for the killer hook, just as the hours spent in Rubadub Records in Glasgow provided him with the inspiration.
This is neither house music nor techno, though you can certainly dance to it. Debukas has taken the basic building blocks of those genres and somehow repurposed them to produce music that is vocal-based without featuring formal songs (it feels at times as though he’s sampled himself from some obscure found-sound album). When he hits his stride, you can almost imagine – in some far off, alternative universe, maybe – Debukas on Top Of The Pops performing, say, ‘Some Days’.
If you’ve been lucky enough to come across his EPs for 2020Vision, you will have heard and appreciated his unique style; it sounds like nothing else on the roster yet fits perfectly among it all. I Am Machinery is a step further; a step forward. The sound has received a slight polish though one that comes from confidence in a sure direction rather than songs with a needless sheen. And here’s confidence for you, some of the best material from the EPs has been ditched so the album has a flow, as if all of these songs were conceived to only live together communally on I Am Machinery, like brothers and sisters, or even prisoners (of soul).
On ‘Tape Symphony’, one of the newest songs, Debukas woos us with some white soul, edged with those glittery synths and an unrelenting bass figure. ‘Hold Back The Sea’, technically just a simple house groove, is imbued with his trademark multi-layered vocals which rends it startlingly and unintentionally similar to Frankie Goes To Hollywood – bizarrely, I know, but it just totally works.
I Am Machinery is that rare thing: a great electronic album. It’s where man meets machinery and they have some right old rumpy-pumpy in front of everyone. This is Debukas’s lovechild. Plug in, tune in, blast off.
Words - Bill Brewster