Features | Awards

The Retro-Fetishists’ Award for Vinyl-Only EP of the Year

By George Bass | 6 December 2010

Bullion
You Drive Me To Plastic 12”
(Young Turks; 2010)







Londoner Nathan Jenkins struck gold when he did blasphemous things to Pet Sounds (1966), turning landmark surferama into psychedelic beats. Amazingly, it worked, and perhaps as a thank you to the old Capitol picture discs for helping propel the Bullion moniker, Jenkins’ first “non-album” is a five-hundred run on wax only: one side containing the grooves, the other featuring hand-etched sketches so novices know how to spin it. How You Drive Me To Plastic didn’t get pressed on Appleblim’s Apple Pips imprint I’ll never know—its mix of dub, pop, Boards of Canada in tracksuits, and wonky is near perfect, shimmering with an eye-catching Mardi Gras edge. Surprisingly, it’s the pop element that holds it all together, acting like psychoactive gaffer tape, and Jenkins—a self-confessed 5ive fan—has stolen snippets from failed chart contenders and morphed them into twenty minutes of ecstasy. This makes Bullion unique in as much as, by the time he decides to release a proper CD, the pressure to eclipse YDMTP will be considerable. He could be the first producer in history to get sophomore slump on his debut album.

So why should you go out and buy music that requires machinery and not clickwheels to be heard? Well, across nine incredibly short tracks, Jenkins whips up the sonic equivalent of Kendal Mint Cake: delicious for a treat, but rich enough to sustain your body’s vital systems for days on end without variety. His influences here leap in from everywhere: to quote the anonymous MC who wades in on “Too Right,” “To me, if a record can be played now, then it’s now.” This is shortly before Jenkins drops a concoction of TV tones, electro breaks and runaway fiddle lines, helping drive home the twisted logic of his philosophy. He makes no secret of his love for all things outdated, and even opens with a thirty second recap of his own sampling to date, each one hurled at you through a different speaker. This gets pushed into the samba, sitars and hip-hop of “Slight Jig in the Sky,” where glitter and strings play over the moaning which you know comes from some long-deleted wax.

For twenty minutes, Bullion hoovers up an impossible rainbow of sounds, and produces some kind of dubstep soundtrack to a future LittleBigPlanet game in return. The first priority of his mission here is enjoyment: “Pressure To Dance” is the record’s most stern cut, tying ’80s keyboards and laser harps around a Daft Punk breakdown (incl. falsettos). The way he then melts the rhythms of that track into the hooks of “My Castle in England” will make you understand his potential, and why hordes of reactionary Beach Boys fans didn’t want to stone him to death. Jenkins is exactly the kind of snappy urchin you’d let butcher treasured milestones in pop music, and his fiendish recycling and green brainwaves get the pristine introduction they deserve on Young Turks records. The only criticism you can level at You Drive Me To Plastic is its tracks are so damn short, leaving you with the feel of one of those tasters that film studios give away in doggy-bags. In fact, if you felt the Tron: Legacy score was just too damn formulaic and want your own rippling mix for the film—one that Jeff Bridges would personally approve of had his mind stayed frazzled in Tideland (2006)—then you need to get your record deck primed now. This is a pressing good enough not to sensibly back up on your iPod. There’s a flavor in Bullion’s soup for everyone. Come dip your bread. It’s tasty.