Helena Hauff, Actio Reactio

[Werkdiscs / Ninjatune]


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Renowned for all sorts of disorienting abstractions, Werkdiscs often introduces producers whose sonic artifacts transcend influence or obvious method. The label’s consistent extravagance has been intentionally gliding on hazy genre boundaries throughout the last decade, changing the original formulas they were based upon in the first place. This year, the label seems focused on techno territory with a characteristic twist. After a heavy release from the enigmatic MoirĂ©, the series continues with a debut release from Helena Hauff, a 25-year-old DJ/producer from Germany. Hailing from Hamburg’s notorious Golden Pudel Club, Hauff considers herself closer to being a punk than a techno DJ, and it shows. Although she grew up uncontaminated by the digital world, her all-vinyl sets of dark techno and electro show a dazzling palette of influences, oblivious to norms or conventions.

Actio Reactio EP is her debut release, and not as wildly broad as one would expect from her DJ sets. Still, her style of one-take analog jamming shines through brightly: each track takes on a specific rhythmic engine and tweaks its intrinsic patterns. “Actio Reactio” unfurls as a 10-minute tribal workout of what you’d normally call techno, but that would severely misrepresent the polyrhythmic nature of the concentric beat structures presented. The track’s internally shifting percussive ebb and flow causes an intense dance-music moment, and after minutes of relentless, raw hardware permutation, you’d expect it to attain escape velocity and spawn some truly nihilistic darkness.

“Break Force” offers no extreme surgery on rhythms; instead, it focuses on 80s industrial rigidity and acid-house dissolution. It’s pure robotic funk with a lovely algorithmic feel to it. Squealing and whining, the 303 follows the ticking of the high-end and the cavernous sirens in the distance, as if imitating an assembly line of a car factory. The monotony of it all is interrupted by the irregular staccato bass line, constantly losing ground under its feet like a glitchy zoetrope, and in time, the sparseness of the track becomes quite impressive. But there’s much more to Hauff’s music than these two dance-floor cuts, and “Micro Manifesto” definitely hints at that. Just over 3 minutes long, it consists of individual synth threads laid on top of each other in a noisy minimal-wave construction heading toward a crescendo. Ironically, it’s this exact pattern the first two cuts might be craving for, although never receive. Taken as a whole, Actio Reactio is a good introduction for the newcomer. It seems likely that these three cuts represent only a fragment of her imagination which, by some recent label announcements, will be presented in full very soon.

whybanewhy  on August 22, 2013 at 3:38 PM

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