There are still pure hunnerds of records in that stack. I thought I had knocked some respect into the gangly bastard, but it keeps growing. So here are some more short reviews as I try to clear the decks before I start having to think about all the Christmas time lists. They’re hard enough to write, let me tell you, without a bunch of unlistened to 12″s hanging over your head.
Head Front Panel: #11, #12 (Head Front Panel)
First up is the double dunt of John Heckle’s Head Front Panel project 12″‘s which appeared a couple of weeks ago in a high-speed ram raid affair and only available direct from the label, the releases made sweeter by the fact the series was supposed to have ended at #10.5 last year Those who missed getting these two from the label should be able to get them either right now or very shortly from the usual suspects. I tend to not bother too much about limited, quickly gone, releases, but I’ll always make an exception for Head Front Panel’s take on techno.
Let’s not waste too much time on a lot of descriptive prose, though: If you know the score, you know the sound, and the fact is that Heckle’s take on harder techno is both subtly old school and thoroughly forward looking. The mix of bleeps, blasts, weaving grooves and battering drums remind you of how far a lot of techno has fallen, while not so gently reproaching you for not having enough faith in how great in can still be. While the stripped down weirdo funk of #6 and the brutally cute Detroitish patterns of #9 remain my favourites in the series, both #11 and #12 are well up there with exactly the sort of molten, driving, reality twisting techno we’ve come to expect. And I’ll tell you what, that last track on #12 is destined to be a major, major, major floor shaker in the very near future if you haven’t already lost your mind to it without knowing what it was. Buy On Sight.
Struction – Gefuge (R&S)
I have to admit that I haven’t really followed R&S very carefully over the last few years, but it’s always interesting to see what the hugely influential labels of the 90’s are up to nowadays. Most of them have gone the way of the Dodo, or are reduced to being mere shadows of themselves. Some, like Warp, have burst out of the electronica ghetto (to a greater or lesser extent) and don’t seem to do much that gets me going whilst maintaining an impressive enough presence in the world at large.
Like Warp, R&S have embraced bigger names and bigger concepts here and there whilst keeping a foot (both feet, plus legs, actually) in that bubbly, fecund electronic broth we love so much. Struction is a relative newcomer, with a single split EP on Ilian Tapes to his name. The peanut gallery suggests Struction is actually a well-known name playing dressy-up, which I’m happy to let slide if true because we haven’t had one of these mystery artists things in a while, and it allows me to again start the rumour it’s Phil Collins. You read it hear first.
Gefuge isn’t bad at all. It sometimes feels like it’s trying too hard to emulate that era of cold, glittering, IDM infused techno, leaving itself a little open to the nagging suspicion you’ve heard a little too much of it before. Generally though it’s a fairly tight affair, comprising surprisingly raw beats and with a rather sophisticated sense of the ethereal. Ai is a particular high-point, with the gentle lunacy of its slowly unwinding polyrhythms fighting for ear-time with some of the deepest, thickest, and most aquatic synths I’ve heard in a while. The stand out though is Kreen, which explores the empty corridors of a broken down rave rocket left to hang forever in the gravity well of a distant star. And while the tunes certainly do hark back at times to a simpler, possibly more refined techno-age, it still manages to sound fresher than a lot of the competition.