Demdike Stare, Testpressing #001/#002

[Modern Love]

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If you had to ascribe one specific audio format to techno, it would undoubtedly be the vinyl 12″. Techno has a special relationship with the 12″; the traditional notion of an “album” just doesn’t cut it when an artist wants to make a big statement. Enter the series — a related set of 12″s where the typical techno aesthetic is maintained, but where an artist can explore an idea or a vibe over the course of a finite number of related records. From the color-coded excursions of Wolfgang Voigt (Studio 1) and Donnacha Costello (Colorseries) through Shed’s white-label runs and the many series plotted by Ernestus and von Oswald, the 12″ series often represents an artist’s most considered and thoughtful explorations within dance music. Modern Love has long embraced the conceptual series, both explicitly in the form of Claro Intelecto’s timeless Warehouse Sessions and Deepchord’s dub-techno masterpiece The Coldest Season, and implicitly, as the single-digit numbers on the label’s earliest releases hint at the idea. Yet Demdike Stare have already proven themselves as the label’s most series-focused act, with Tryptych and Elemental quickly positioning themselves high on the list of high-concept, artsy processions of dance music.

Demdike Stare, “Grows Without Bound”

No surprise, then, that 2013 sees the launch of a new collection of records under the Testpressing banner. This time Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker strip away the ornate art that has long accompanied their releases — seeing Shed’s white labels and upping the ante in the austerity department by packaging these records in plain paper sleeves with pressing plant paperwork still inside. In a way, the sleeves make perfect sense, as the first volume sounds so rough and free-flowing it seems both hot off the press and somewhat incomplete, like experiments too wild and potent to be edited or dialed down. “Collision” offers harsh, heavily filtered noise and busted jungle percussion, an infectious blend that seems sourced straight from the id. Flipped over, the chanting voices and shuffling rhythms of “Misappropriation” are perhaps more quickly identifiable as the work of Demdike Stare, but it’s just as foreboding as the A-side, ready to rip apart the floor of the darkest club in town.

The second volume throws some more curveballs, as “Grows Without Bound” mines deep into intimidating, noisy chords that slowly progress alongside distant, stealthy rhythms. But it’s B-side “Primitive Equations” that goes for the jugular, as Italian library samples and whispering voices deviously mingle with dank bass rubs and shattered rhythms. That might sound like business as usual for the Northern duo, but the way it progresses reminds of countless Modern Love dance-floor slayers come before, especially those on the Daphne sub-label. It’s got a particular UK hardcore sensibility about it that Demdike have cloaked thus far under mountains of worldly samples from far-flung places. So far, the Testpressing series has seen them embrace these UK routes in their own idiosyncratic fashion. But unlike their previous series, they have not told the public where the endpoint for Testpressing is. Whether we get one more or ten more, the mantra for Testpressing seems to be “expect the unexpected, enthusiastically,” and one would be keen to do so.

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on June 8, 2013 at 8:52 AM

The 3rd Testpressing is clearly the best one yet. Which says an awful lot considering how good the first 2 are…


Little White Earbuds April Charts 2013 | Little White Earbuds  on May 3, 2013 at 1:03 AM

[…] Amore” (12″ Dub Version) [DFA] 09. Joy Orbison, “Donell” [white] 10. Demdike Stare, “Collision” [Modern Love]Chris Miller 01. Demdike Stare, “Primitive Equations” [Modern Love] 02. […]

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