Review: HE/AT – Accident Waiting To Happen (HE/AT)

…Aaaand we’re back.

I’m a newcomer to Chris Finke’s He/aT project, even though it’s been intermittently running for a few years now. He’s probably better known under his own name or with his Bodyjack alias, in both cases propagating variations of a virile form of deep, rolling, techno which seems built to provide a snarl in the late, messy, period of an evening whilst still providing something in the way of a surprising left hook which helps set the music aside from the masses of techno ploughing otherwise similar furrows. Check out Bodyjack’s Cobra Effect EP for a good sample of this sort of unexpected tastiness, and enjoy the way the harder elements are coupled to a squashed up housey (and even ravey) energy.

While Accident Waiting To Happen is, in some ways, a more straightened release than Cobra Effect, it still refuses to be easily pigeon-holed ranging as it does between tight analytical building, raw electronic storms, and something altogether more classic and timeless. Running through it all, however, is Finke’s undoubted skill as a master builder. There is an art to creating a building track, one that climbs higher and higher in energy and sound, and Finke uses the form to effect time and time again here, focussing the funk into laser sharp patterns, lighting up the growing grooves.

It’s evident from the off, even in the skipping, rugged thrash of the title track where the Reese bass, heavy as a black hole, throws its dark light over the jagged percussion, and lends a dose of anxiety to a tune which is thick with a bleak, dreamlike atmosphere, accented by the deep blush of otherworldly synths. It’s Impossible To Describe The Smell Of A Wet Dog lifts a similar mood, but latches it to some searing drum patterns before gradually stripping away everything except the pounding, ceaseless rhythm. It’s heartfelt, moody techno; shimmering and tight, but most importantly, it has enough space for those banging drums to work their toxic magic.

The Man Who Makes Husbands Jealous, burns away some of the thick atmosphere with strobe lit acid. At first it feels like a miss hit, a less authoritative tune on a record which is otherwise never afraid to take control. But as the acid beds into the subtly off-centre groove, it begins to swirl and coalesce into something deliciously malicious which has made midnight its home.

Best of the lot is A Drama Out Of A Crisis which finally pares everything down to a pumping, deeply funky groove which looks to the minimalism of Robert Hood’s sublime mid 90’s work but adds a bit of swagger to round off the harsh edges. It’s a great, sweet, number; all jacking energy carefully clothing a deep heart. But aside from the obvious Hoodisms, it retains all of Finke’s way with the form, and he gives free rein here to simply letting the playful, bleeped out riff ride the back of the jacking beat, allowing a blaze of sweaty soulful energy to shine through. It’s a reminder, if one were needed, that all the carefully manipulated sounds and clever approaches of modern techno are worth little if you can’t get the groove going.