When they first developed their distinctive brand of off-kilter live techno, Sam Haar and Zach Steinman would regularly get together for jam sessions. Since then, most of their tracks have been composed this way. Things change, though, and the three tracks that make up the Persuasion EP were instead composed in the studio. Aesthetically, they explore similar themes to the duo's previous work - see the L.I.E.S influenced darkroom pump of "Inner Motive", and the dub-flecked late night hypnotism of "Son" - whilst trying to push things on further. That's best demonstrated by "Persuasion", which is almost psychedelic in its intoxicating effect
Hopefully the people from the Trading Standards office never catch up with Blondes, because the US duo's latest effort could hardly be classified as an EP. Instead, they unleash a 50-minute long track, available on cassette and now digitally. As befits its length, "Reins" is an epic, sprawling affair. Starting with dense, abstract percussion and waves of sound, it leads into clattering rhythms, dense claps and then an eerie, atmospheric synth scape. That only covers the first ten minutes; for the remainder of the track, the pair then veer into Aphex-like melodies, tribal drums, discordant techno and finally finish off with an eerie ambient outro.
Swisher (Simian Mobile Disco remix) - (9:23) 122 BPM
Wire (Claro Intelecto remix) - (7:05) 120 BPM
Wire (Huerco S remix) - (10:32) 116 BPM
Wire (Function remix) - (8:07) 160 BPM
Given the artists assembled to rework Blondes when their debut album was released two years ago, it's unsurprising that this EP of remixes is of a similarly high standard. Of particular interest is Huerco S's version of "Wire", which delivers a clanking, murky, industrial and frankly chilling ten-minute trip into fuzzy techno territory. Almost as impressive are the versions of the same track by Function (deep, spacey techno) and Claro Intelecto, who surprises by delivering an intricate, organic-sounding rub full of winding chords and melancholic intent. As if that lot wasn't enough, there's also a great deep house-meets-dub house revision of "Swisher" by Simian Mobile Disco.
In a year of epic, and frankly exhausting marketing campaigns for the likes of Daft Punk and Boards of Canada, the surprise release of Blondes' second album is a breath of air as fresh and breezy as its title Swisher sounds. Although still marked out by the duo's fondness for thick, hazy, cosmic sounds and the spaciousness of classic dub techno, Swisher sees the pair expanding on their palette of sounds, though the dreamy, melodic progression of their debut album remains intact, most notably on "Andrew" and final track "Elise". Yet there are times when Blondes sound in significantly tougher mood, with cuts such as "Wire" and "Bora Bora" sounding inspired to some degree by Andy Stott's more recent murky techno deviations. Unsurprisingly, it comes highly recommended.