Review: Various Artists – Brothers 6 (Brothers Label)

Perhaps because I am a person who tends to react to compromise in much the same way that a peanut allergy sufferer would react to a mouthful of Reece’s Pieces, the idea of splitting creative control of something as personal as a record strikes me as a little – no, a lot – terrifying. It’s not only that, I suppose. There is also the inherent danger of a dilution of the artistic vision. I hold up ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ by Smokey, Featuring Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown as evidence. I mean, how dare that washed up rock band get in the way of Roy’s fiendishly anarchistic plan to swear over and over on Top of The Pops?

At the other end of the spectrum the Brothers Label have made a virtue out of collaboration with a run of records that celebrate such collisions. Over the last couple of years various luminaries such as Perc, Tom Dicicco, Neil Landstrumm, Mike Parker, Patrick Walker and Paul Birken have brought their skills to bear on these joint releases. This time out Northern English Duo AnD return to the fold along side three new partners in crime.

Headless Horseman has been grabbing some infamy following a slew of banging white labels and would seem to be a good fit for AnD’s brand of uncompromising thunder. Sunil Sharpe is another name on the rise, with a recent remix of Uretran already under his belt and an EP for Trensmat coming along this month. And D Carbone, seemingly one of the hardest working men in techno, continues to relish in his ubiquity with another appearance here.

Dead Hush with Headless Horseman is a bleakly dystopian work out, where the skewed beats and menacing pads deliver the feel of the musical accompaniment to static charged video recordings from the sharp end of a future cyber-war. There are the subtlest hints of tribal rhythms here, but the tribes of the 21st century – the 4chans, the Anonymous – rather than Serengeti clans rocking out. Harsh and claustrophobic, it harbours the ever-present dread of being watched and evaluated. Big Brother is aware. Be Pure, Be Vigilante. Behave.

D. Carbone and AnD gets the swing back on track with an almost speaker wreckingly huge slab of warehouse techno featuring kicks so unfeasibly vast they must have had to sample a demolition ball. After Headless Horseman Sonic Erosion feels particularly lithe and euphoric, recalling some of the more joyously unhinged moments that are to be found in the back catalogue of labels like Djax Upbeats or Tresor. In fact, it’s especially heady with that old Tresor vibe. A simple arrangement of hissing hats and bruising claps that do little more than guide the snarling riff to the end as a wild, almost self oscillating mono tone goes loopy over the top. It’s unabashed peak time debauchery, sweat drenched with no more desire than to make you dance your feet off and grin your face to bits.

Sunil Sharpe keeps the best to the end with Security Breach, a fearsome, prowling acidic killer that cuts the speed ever so slightly and dips us into the relative murk of the contemporary underground. It rewires the 303s, bringing a sneering quality to their call and response antics and builds slowly over six minutes into a functional, funky and deeply twisted mover that owes as much to the likes of Vereker and Svengalisghost as it does to more classical techno outfits. The manifesto of modern techno writ large.

I don’t know how where AnD ends and the others begin. I don’t really think it matters, to be honest, and even if it did I’m not sure I’d care. Between the four artists we have gained, by accident or design, a snap shot of where the various strands of techno are going in 2014. And even without the quality of the music, that would be worth the admission alone.