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Third Side – Unified Fields

by on at 17:12pm

Although still fundamentally a niche area, it feels like the idea of raw, analogue house and techno has never been more in vogue. Whether it’s a reaction against the corporate homogeneity of “EDM”, the proliferation of Traktor and Serato in DJ booths, increased use of integrated hardware and software systems like Maschine or simply a desire to create electronic music in a way that tweaking parameters inside software cannot match, we seem to be in the midst of a reaction against computers and a desire to re-engage with old fashioned processes. At the forefront of the house and techno arm of this trend is the Restoration imprint, run by Berlin-based Italian duo The Analogue Cops, who, through their own productions, some high-profile collaborations with Blawan, and their Third Side project with Panorama Bar resident Steffi, have turned themselves into almost militant defenders of the hardware-only approach.

Third Side - Unified Fields

Artist
Third Side

Title
Unified Fields

Label
Restoration

Format
2x12" LP

Buy vinyl

Although all of their projects has a similarly sludgy sound due to processes involved, each has its own feel; Third Side’s is perhaps the most oblique. The rough hewn, manic rhythms of early Jeff Mills are an obvious influence, but with the warmth and familiarity of well worn deep house tropes like Legowelt’s psychedelic-edged but recognisable Chicago jack, albeit roughed up with sandpaper, soaked in tea, and left to dry in the sun for a few weeks. For all the talk of “rawness” however, Unified Fields, the debut Third Side album, is actually a fairly gentle collection of tracks; rather than trying to achieve maximum crunch by pushing their equipment to the limit, the album plays things fairly straight. In the case of tracks like opener “The Absolute”, it’s in the form of a gentle chord drift and a simple rhythm that slowly builds itself up in a rigid, linear fashion, or with “The Base Of All Metters” it’s airy chords and subtle bleeps tumbling inwards. On “Subsequent Stages”, it’s not a lack of groove that dictates the track’s pace, but an explicit choice of loudness dynamics, with its low-slung bassline sounding like it’s being played from the bottom of a well. On tracks like these it feels as if the intention is for the mechanics of the track to penetrate your brain rather than your body and put you into a higher mind state. These are joined by a rougher, more bumping clutch of tracks; “Jackie”, with its leering vocal, ratatat snares and gravelly texture, the wantonly unhinged “Gauge Fields” and the pulsating “Unity” which revels in its own malfunction. None of these come close to “Shit On Me” however, a loopy, angular combination of proto 2-step, drifting deep house and morse code chirps that sounds like it’s being transmitted on a short-wave radio frequency from limbo.

Unified Fields is dance music at its most unadulterated, the limitations of hardware forcing the trio’s music into forms made primal and abstract by the process of repetition. Although Third Side may be reviving recording techniques, it never feels like they’re slavishly reviving a style – simply because it’s not clear what style, if any, they’re emulating. Despite being a vinyl doublepack for DJs in the most traditional sense, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to home listening, Unified Fields is more than a collection of functional dance tracks; part manifesto, part aural musical equivalent of a hypnotist’s spinning wheel, its relentlessly gentle grooves seem designed to subtly shift your expectation of what techno is, or should be.

Scott Wilson


Tracklisting:

A1. The Absolute
A2. Jackie (feat nd_baumecker)
B1. The Base Of All Matters
B2. Gauge Fields
C1. Unity
C2. Subsequent Stages
D1. Fundamental Forces
D2. Shit On Me (feat Virginia)

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