Wrecked Lightship // Concréte Dubbing

Appleblim and Wedge delve into a deep well of dubwise, technoid science fiction on their new album.

Peak Oil has successfully positioned itself as one of ‘those’ labels. Every release feels like an event, and there’s no need for prior knowledge of an artist to feel motivated to check a record out. The artwork is sure to be on point, and there’s a reliable sonic quality which will never let you down — at least assuming you’re in some way inclined towards technologically inquisitive electronics with elegance and innovation in their dub-soaked DNA. If you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance that tracks. 

Recent Peak Oil entrants Wrecked Lightship might not be on everyone’s radar thus far, but the Berlin-based partnership certainly have pedigree. Adam Winchester has been working under a variety of aliases, notably alongside Chris Jarman in the noise-geared Dot Product. and slipping out some dubstep gems in his Bristol days as Wedge. Laurie Osborne is the mighty Appleblim, co-pilot of Skull Disco, one-time steward of Apple Pips and former bassist of The Monsoon Bassoon (if you know, you know). Both have been consistently busy scattering ideas and expressions about the place, and the long-time friends debuted their Wrecked Lightship project in 2022 with a low-key tape release on Dead Bison followed by a more extended album on Midnight Shift. 

“I think a lot of inspiration in our production and process in Wrecked Lightship comes from studying electro-acoustic music together on our Creative Music Technology course at uni,” says Winchester, “which opened us up to a lot of fascinating music. It introduced me to new ways of thinking about sound and composition. Exploiting technology, creating moods and environments and building sound worlds with the material.”

They might have been studying more than 20 years ago, but it was only in 2018 when Winchester and Osborne finally committed to a dedicated studio project that Wrecked Lightship came into being, and thus far it’s shifted its focus from release to release. Threads of the pair’s Bristol past weave through everything — the looming sense of space, an affinity for meditative mood, plenty of sub frequencies, delay and reverb — but they also sound very free and inquisitive, happily indulging their curiosity along the way. 

“Our first record Drowned Aquarium is pretty out there in places,” Winchester explains. “We wrote it with no intention in mind, just let the tunes go where they wanted to go. There’s a lot of concrète and tape manipulation going on. Lots of sampling of unusual sources, spliced radio recordings, euclidean rhythm sequencers, modular riffs and some real instruments too — whatever we could find and capture and then mould into musical forms. The Midnight Shift release Oceans and Seas was mostly written during Covid, and listening back now it feels quite dark and paranoid in places, in a good way.”

That brings us up to Antiposition, which marks a new slant on the Wrecked Lightship sound more comfortably aligned with the overarching vibe of Peak Oil. There’s a sense of rave intensity in the Reese-like bass on ‘Hex’, a metronomic mid-range tick on the title track which summons the spirit of bygone DMZ days, the inescapable lure of jungle flirting with breakstep brukkage in the live drum flex of ‘Sunken Skies’. But these elements are contextualised by swirling, slippery sonics around them — fathoms deep atmospheres rich with texture guided by the electro-acoustic bedrock of the project. 

“The feel of these tracks on Peak Oil was certainly, ‘lets use these musique concrete or microphone-based things,’” says Osborne. “The drums on ‘Bizarre Servants’ are a great example. The original recordings sound almost comically flat and badly played — the kit we used was just sat in the studio, and it was an impulse thing to just start pounding on them. They were brought alive through over-processing, analogue desk distortion and some nifty editing from Adam. This track went in a heavy space rock, kosmische direction. We were also thinking of the Belbury Poly and Ghost Box idea of things sounding ancient and modern at the same time. Timeless, but also time-travelling.”

Osborne also explicitly nods back to the landmark Bristol dubstep scene he and Winchester emerged from, and the subsequent ways quintessentially ‘Bristol’ club music has evolved since then. Even if they left the city some 10 years ago, it still feels like an instructive part of their musical DNA — they didn’t move to Berlin and just start knocking out straight-up techno, for one thing. 

“The track ‘Antiposition’ subconsciously channels the spirit of the newer school of Bristol in my opinion,” says Osborne. “Things like Young Echo happened mainly after we left Bristol but personally I feel a strong kinship with them, and have taken great inspiration from their attitude. I’m not saying they would see the influence on this track, but I can hear it — the processed vocals, the dubwise, the greater influence of noise and industrial in the bass music scene. The second wave of dubstep, including the ‘Bristol sound’ Adam and I were involved in, was mainly influenced only by the first wave of dubstep, mixed with techno minimalism and some junglistical impulses, so i love hearing what the next generations do with different influences. This seeped into our sounds too, i believe — modern, heavy, psychedelic bass music.”

Antiposition by Wrecked Lightship is out now on Peak Oil. Buy it at Bandcamp here, and also don’t miss the equally essential new Low End Activist album, Airdrop, which is out on April 12.