When the legendary Korsakov events company announced their intent to spawn a label in 2018, no one was sure if this would simply be another promoter side project to gain exclusivity on performance contracts, or a real label worth its mustard. Thanks to the hiring of the “Cantankerous” Elmar Van Eijk whose A&R proved invaluable but whose energy is akin to that of a Tasmanian devil, we can now safely say Korsakov Music is not only thriving but has become a household name in dancefloor drum & bass.
Taking on the irritatingly untaggable artist moniker AL/SO, Van Eijk has had a number of his own releases on the Dutch imprint, so now he’s also known for his own brand of high-quality dancefloor tunes, one of the most high-energy and infectious live DJ shows out there and a sick sense of humor when it comes to release titles. With previous titles like the now dancefloor standard “Party Every Day” with High Maintenance and “Booger Sugar” and “Dutch Courage” as Ancient Radius, his project with AKOV and Multiplex, it would only stand to reason that AL/SO’s debut solo album, Toaster Bath due out this Friday, August 20, would be stamped with that horrifying irony as well.
With lots of collabs under his belt, AL/SO has really struck out on Toaster Bath, with the only collab track being “Earthquake” with Holdem and vocals and guitars on “Brace Yourself” provided by Gid Sedgwick and Tom Vernon, respectively. Once past the initial shock of the title and tongue-in-cheek cover photo, fans will find a technically clean, well-constructed and, of course, highly danceable EP laced with neuro-style sub bass and punishing synths. The big surprise on the EP comes from the afore-mentioned “Brace Yourself,” which reveals AL/SO’s love of classic metal as he mixes Vernon’s Laiho-level guitar prowess, Sedgwick’s modernized Iron Maiden screamo vox and a punishing dancefloor beat. Van Eijk took a big risk on this track but if live reactions are anything to by, it’s paid off in spades.
Our premiere today and the last track to be teased before Toaster Bath drops is, appropriately, the title track. Full of his trademark humor in the form of electrocution and water samples, the layered synths on “Toaster Bath” are also heavily charged while the uber-fast beat drives the track along. It’s a lovely dancefloor-neuro crossover vibe in this track, and that’s one way it gets away with all the suicide references. The other is, well, it’s AL/SO. Fans would expect nothing less than a shocking (pardon the pun) nod to death and electrocution in the middle of a plague. That notwithstanding, however, it’s an extremely solid, fun track and punters can bet it will be widely played on big rigs across the world come fall. It’s an excellent Halloween track.
Toaster Bath is bound to raise some eyebrows with its title and contents, if not fully offend the more delicate constitutions of of this trying time, but luckily drum & bass is built for this sort of humor. We also must remember that some of the best yet most macabre art and humor has come out of scary times and society was almost always better for it: guillotine fashion during the French Revolution, for example, or the phantasmagoria, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Dracula and more that came out of the smallpox-and-cholera-riddled early 1800s. Even the children’s nursery rhyme “Ring a Ring of Roses (Ring Around the Rosey)” is about plague sores and death. Toaster Bath might be the cheeky smirk we need while skanking on the dancefloor as raves come back full-time, and if nothing else, it’s one hell of a quality EP.
Toaster Bath releases on Korsakov Music on Friday, August 20. Click here to pre-order or pre-save.