Photo by Felix Salazar
In genealogical terms, the A side of Dave Huismans’ latest 12″ under his techno moniker, A Made Up Sound, doesn’t have much to do with frazzled MPC stew of Theo Parrish’s “Any Other Styles,” but its strategically incoherent aesthetic delivers a similar shock. Pushing its creator’s style to a choppy extreme without abandoning his basic appeal, “Ahead” is so heavily swung it barely holds together. Staggering from convulsion to convulsion, showering its pointedly blank canvas with tiny universes of intricately sculpted drum hits, “Ahead” sports a level of body-music futurism more often associated with jungle or broken beat than techno. All negative space criss-crossed by paranoid jitters and mangled, self-cancelling rhythms, it’s an obvious-yet-shrewd way of keeping pace with and differentiating himself from a techno scene increasingly bent on dark intensity. Writhing like a gasping fish, it’s hard to imagine “Ahead” showing up in anything but the most adventurous DJ sets. The challenge it levels at us to make sense of the lumpy thing might be more interesting than the lumpy thing itself, but “Ahead” isn’t without its own skewed appeal, an internal logic that keeps it this side of random.
On the flip side, “Endgame” hangs together thanks to a gooey bass line baked in shuffling triplets, the behemoth weight of its staggered kick drums suggesting an especially funky Shed track. There’s an echo of “Ahead”‘s slippage at the heart of this head-down stormer, but it’s made to reinforce rather than sabotage the forward movement. Like the Theo Parrish record from last year, Ahead / Endgame balances experimentation and tried-and-true sounds, but stands out precisely because it isn’t unambiguously successful — a tangible risk in an often risk-averse world.