As an art form, the harder end of the Techno spectrum has long been distinct from many of the other styles that cling together under the banner of electronic music. Partly this is down to a slightly different ethos when it comes to producing music. The bulk of House – particularly those forms which cater to big rooms and big crowds – has often kept itself well within certain boundaries which would be recognizable to a traditional songwriter. But Techno has long refused to be beholden to such a simple format, which is fitting for a genre which puts such high importance on sound design and the effects of those sounds upon the listener. Such an approach all but demands new methods of framing those sounds.
Part of the problem, however, with a large amount of hard Techno is that in pursuit of this approach certain elements of a more traditional outlook tend to take a back seat. The harder you go, it seems, the less shade there is, and the less likely you are to find the subtlety which brings out the more involving elements of the music. In effect, you are swapping this for velocity and volume, demanding that they do the job of moving your mind and body instead.
D. Carbone’s Anomalies EP, though, largely manages to sidestep such concerns. Yes, it remains a heavy number, frequently delving deep into the Industrial Techno toolbox for effect. The beats across the EP are harsh, blistered by weathered distortion, the synths and pads stark, scraped clean of warmth. But there remains a depth of emotion that belays the fury, even revealing a core of unexpected fragility that moves it closer to the realm of the high-octane machine funk of Rob Hood, Mills, or even Mad Mike at his most insane.
The A-side is perhaps the pick of the two. Both tunes are fluid, finely morphing creatures of the night that roll instead of pound. Irritating Collapse – for my money the best of the lot – is a broiling Acid Techno skank that rises from the electronic swamp with only one thought in its bruised mind. It throws itself into life, the squawk of the lead drawing the heat away from the crunching, bursting beats which is just as well because if you got too close to them they’d take the skin off your hands. It’s the sort of Acid stomp we don’t hear too much of these days, which is a shame. Played in the right time and place monsters like this do the job like little else. Origin is a head down killer that rides along with no end in sight. the synths stab through the tracks murk and the pads gather like frozen mists around another classy acid bass line that shifts and warps as soon as you catch its gaze.
The B-side opens with Discernment, another full on heavy hitter, but one that feels curiously underpowered at times, the energy occasionally spilling out of it just when it needs to up its game the most. Even so, it is prime plateau music, affording space after a hard climb where you can catch your breath but keep moving. The call of its single note riff is a hypnotic one, fiercely frozen yet potent in its immediacy, especially against the backdrop of some dramatically chewed up pads that lend the track a claustrophobic weight.
Machine Elves is a swirling and downbeat ending, any remaining strength the tune had seemingly leached out by the demands of its peers. It’s ghostly form is further eviscerated by the flares of raw sound and the tumbled squelch of the bass. It’s a menacing and cold ending to the EP, like entropy setting in. Best of all, the final ace, the frightening roll of a half heard riff reverbed into the distance, lending the piece the feel of a late night ride in an abandoned fairground, half glimpsed but not believed.