Listen to the Modern Love duo’s latest foray in the extreme ends of jungle and noise.
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Listen to the Modern Love duo’s latest foray in the extreme ends of jungle and noise.
Ahead of next week’s Unsound festival in Krakow, we pick five of the must-see acts.
Ahead of Unsound’s Krakow event, we dispatched Josh Hall to take in the festival’s London debut which was spread across venues in the capital on the final weekend of September.
Demdike Stare have sneaked out another of their visceral, vinyl-only Testpressing releases on Modern Love – listen to it in full here.
Demdike Stare have returned with another limited 12″ of material under the Testpressing banner – stream the second release here.
Packaged within in a highly convincing replica of a real test pressing, the presentation of Demdike Stare’s Testpressing #001 seems an intentional attempt at humorous misdirection; there’s something undeniably ironic about a record cover asking you to check for distortions in the audio when the musical content of the record is so utterly bathed in savage grit. Supposedly the first of a new series of single releases via Modern Love allowing Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty to indulge their “untamed” side, Testpressing #001 is easily the most bracing thing they’ve done as a duo; quite frankly “untamed” doesn’t even begin to cover these tracks – “unhinged” would probably be closer to the mark.
Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty return as Demdike Stare with the launch of Modern Love’s new Testpressing series – you hear the first release in full here.
Unsound’s reputation for onpoint curation just got a whole stronger with an impressive third round of names added to the already bulging line-up.
It would be stretching it to say that Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty’s Demdike Stare project re-ignited electronic music’s sonic and aesthetic obsession with the supernatural and the occult, but it’s true that they are among the most talented proponents of such dark leanings. However, that may be about to change. The duo have been on a roll over the past year and after the release of Tryptych, they toured and started to accumulate sounds for their latest venture.
The latest release on Modern Love is the work of label stalwart Miles Whittaker, who has released under the MLZ moniker and as one half of both Pendle Coven and Demdike Stare. Despite the fact that he has reverted to his first name, there is no mistaking the UK producer’s production style. Leaning more towards Demdike Stare than his other dancefloor material, Facets teems with life, each track a veritable treasure trove of sounds, ideas and moods. Of course given that it draws inspiration from – and in some place directly invokes – the spirit of Whittaker and Canty’s witch-loving Demdike Stare project, it is no surprise that the prevailing mood is dark, eerie and even sometimes downright menacing.
“Flawed” sets the tone with splintered break beats scattered across an ambient soundtrack that flickers in a half-light before darkness envelopes it. Like the Demdike releases, “Lustre” suggests that the direction may be about to change and offers some concessions towards a lighter mood, as a warm bass and more plaintive chords echo and ebb across its spacious arrangement. Just like the last Demdike album, it proves to be a temporary diversion. It’s followed by “Primer”, where the kind of unquantized tribal drums that underscored Whittaker and partner Canty’s ode to the hashassins, “Hashshashin Chant”, roll in like thunder. Finally, “On The Fly” sees Whittaker focus on shifting tonal frequencies, underpinned by a rhtyhm that starts at a dead pace and speeds up to infinity. It’s a fittingly offbeat finale in this latest compelling release from one of the UK’s great techno eccentrics.
By Richard Brophy:
DJ Hell was the first to sense it coming. Speaking to this writer in 2006, the Gigolos boss claimed that “the chill out concept still exists … this music is not so popular anymore, but I hear it here and there and hope it comes back”. Hell made his own contribution to this revival on the second rambling, Heroes/Low-era Bowie-inspired CD of his 2009 album Teufelswerk and last year’s mix for Get Physical, which offered transgressions from the dancefloor with music by Klaus Schulze and the Balanescu Quartet. However, the Gigolos boss was only partly right: there is a left of centre resurgence going on in techno, but it doesn’t focus on beatless tracks full of whale mating noises and isn’t fronted by silver suit-wearing zippies like Mixmaster Morris urging listeners to lie down for their rights.
It’s all too easy to get lost amidst the droning mists of darkness, menacing found sound samples and sudden blankets of bass and industrial textures that characterise the music of Demdike Stare. Even more so when plunging head first into Tryptych, this luxuriously presented and expanded compendium of the Lancastrian duo’s three albums that Modern Love released last year. By the inherent nature of those albums – vinyl only and in limited quantity – this extended package is perhaps the first chance many have had to fully indulge in the sounds of a duo they have most likely read much about.
What fascinates most is the progression of sound and understanding between Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker that grows across each of the albums. One a key cog in the Finders Keepers empire of dusty fingered reissues of obscure music, and the other already ensconced in the Modern Love family as part of Pendle Coven, together they seem to revel in the creative possibilities. Their debut release together, Symbiosis, ushered in a sonic vision shrouded in faux mysticism and eeriness and touched on an intriguing panoply of influences including everything from drone, obscure field recordings and KPM Library music to Basic Channel, dub and Chicago House.
The template laid down there has been extended and expanded on throughout Forest of Evil, Liberation Through Hearing and Voices Of Dust. As mentioned above there’s a real progression to the Demdike Stare sound that unfurls across the course of the albums and it’s perhaps fun to view each of the albums as soundtracking chapters of an imaginary survival horror film – this was the original intent of the Demdike Stare project – perhaps directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, given the length. Forest of Evil is the apprehensive first steps into the sonic unknown, mercifully short but full of heart racing twists. Despite your best intentions, you return with Liberation Through Hearing and find yourself fully ensconced in the claustrophobia filled nightmare – most notably on tracks such as “Regolith”.
Voices Of Dust retains this inherent creepiness – witness the tribalist headfuck of “Hashshashin Chant” descending in and out of cold war style subaqueous drones. The listener is presented with several opportunities to escape the darkness – “Repository Of Light” for example – yet exhilaratingly you prefer the plunge back into the sonic abyss. Whilst this is an exhaustive release to try and attempt to absorb in one sitting (an approach tried and swiftly canned prior to reviewing) Tryptych’s qualities fully reveal themselves given time. It’s intriguing to ponder where Canty and Whittaker might venture next.
In a year when the more adventurous minds have conjured up the term ‘witch house’ to differentiate between a generation of bedroom producers with a penchant for internet unfriendly symbols, Demdike Stare have provided more than a genuine scare or two with a sonic fog of unease wrapped in mysticism integral to their every moment.
Voices Of Dust sees the Lancastrian duo of Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker deliver the final and much anticipated chapter in their trilogy of albums for Modern Love this year. Arriving in strictly limited quantities and adorned with suitably cryptic artwork from Mr Andy Votel, this is a collection of tracks that chill and delight in equal measures. Proceedings commence in suitably menacing fashion with creeping drone frequencies twisted into the unnerving three minutes that make up “Black Sun”. This seeps into “Hashshashin Chant”, a frenetic collision of eastern discothèque percussion, heavily treated chants, fractured metallic abrasions and cold war submarines. If Maya Arulpragasam did a career swerve towards dub techno it might sound like this.
“Repository Of Light” represents this album’s longest arrangement at eleven minutes, and with it Demdike Stare provide perhaps the most fulfilling moment. Senses are lifted with gratifying ease out of the preceding viscous sonic mist of all encompassing claustrophobia to a delightfully floating point via the gradual ascent to prominence of crystalline Detroit synths that shimmer with ethereal intensity.
“Of Decay & Ecstasy” marks a swift plunge back into the machine made mist of unease which seeps into proceedings on the flip with the spectral fog of “Rain & Shame”. A concluding descent towards the darkness of finality is heralded by murky nebula of distant horns that punctuate “Leptonic Master”. By the time the coarse grains of “A Tale Of Sand” reach the run out groove, you are left with the thrilling sensual juxtaposition of craving more despite yourself.
For the last 11 years, something electronically special has been brewing in Montreal. Throughout five adventurous days and nights, Mutek emphatically made a case for being quite possibly the world’s premier showcase for forward-thinking, cutting edge electronic music and digital creativity. Accompanied by its unmatchable array of stunning visual spectacles, this year brought a host of exciting North American artist premieres including King Midas Sound, Ikonika, Brandt Brauer Frick among many others As over 150 artists and acts converged to dazzle and challenge us, it was impossible to take in everything. The following is what intrepid Juno Plus techno warrior Steve Phillips extracted from all the blissful madness.