You don’t get much more “techno” than Skudge. Let’s run through the list: vinyl-only label, reserved solely for own work? Check. (Well, Phantom came out on CD, but you get the point). Analog gear fetish? Check. Reclusive, mysterious reputation? Check. In hindsight, predicting the arrival of their latest venture, Skudge White, probably wasn’t too hard — it’s simply the final piece in the archetypal puzzle. The label’s inaugural release sees Martin Skogehall (aka MRSK) team up with a friend for the eponymous Fishermen. As we’ve come to expect from Skudge and their associates, it offers a singularly robust take on techno, packing five varied tracks onto one 12″. There are five because they’re short and sweet, the longest clocking in at 5:03. Somehow, though, nothing ever feels rushed.
The piercing, Oscar Mulero-like bleeps of “Dhow,” for instance, take their time to rise from a tangle of scrubby drums and chords, before crashing spectacularly back into the undergrowth. Similarly, the see-sawing synths which dominate “Anchor Buoy” blossom at only the most languid of speeds. The key to this short-but-exciting thing seems to be single motifs. Each cut has just one, heavy drums and varying types of distortion swirling about to make things feel more complex than they really are. It works well. “Blood Knot” uses a manic organ for its centerpiece, slipping it deftly through the roar of stamping machinery. In “Ribbonfish,” two half themes are locked together, ghostly howls and thickly-corrugated chords causing massive damage. “Isopod” might have shared a similar intensity, but for the bleak and beautiful undercurrent audible beneath its didgeridoo-like 303 and industrialized electro beats. Like Rivet’s work, the effort invested in all of these sounds is readily apparent; none feel overly familiar. Ultimately, it’s this quality which keeps each lone motif (plus its surroundings) exciting, and consequently, renders Fisherman an incredibly strong start for Skudge White.