Miles, Facets


Illustration by Marco Mazzoni

[Modern Love]


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Techno has long been a kind of skeleton upon which producers hang their own idiosyncrasies. For some it’s extreme minimalism; for others, it’s shimmering waves of noise and texture. Miles Whittaker’s particular love is seated in deep dub which he’s as half of Pendle Coven and Demdike Stare, as well as under his own MLZ alias. His latest, Facets, for long time home Modern Love, is tellingly published under his own name and represents some of the most personal music he has made. Its four experimental techno tracks shuffle, vibrate and hypnotize in ways that recall of his other projects but forge a very unique sound. I first heard the second track, “Lustre,” on the radio, and it was an acutely singular experience hearing the titanic layers of sounds coming over the airwaves, like they were tunneling through miles of solid rock to get to my ears.

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When “Flawed” begins, one could be forgiven for expecting a Demdike Stare-style horror show from its ghostly melody atmosphere, but the shuddering drum beat soon takes over and becomes a track about rhythm rather than that other project’s tribalistic shamanism. Its relentless beat only drops out for seconds at a time, giving way to deeper sonics with each resurgence. The true highlight, though, is the aforementioned “Lustre.” Apparently based on some re-configured material from labelmate Andy Stott, it’s a giant track sure to devastate anyone hearing it over a proper system. Dark and ominous atmospheres coat the low-end while a gritty dub beat acts as the anchor preventing the listener from becoming too lost in it’s hypnotic waves. Whittaker excels at cutting the production just perfectly to keep these elements in balance.

“Primer” is all about the drums, pushing the melody and texture down to serve as background while a drum machine is flipped and manipulated into increasingly intense variations. This is only techno in the loosest sense, being much closer to the African percussion styles than anything else. Closer “On The Fly” is perhaps the most difficult of Facets‘ tracks. Using an makeshift setup of broken drum machines, contact microphones and samplers, Miles let the devices run wild in an organically chaotic mess of rhythm and sound. At times it stutters and falters just when it starts going; other times it grates from lack of progress. This is true experimentalism, though, and songs like this lead to equipment discoveries leading to perfect storms like “Lustre.” When “On The Fly” finally exhausts itself in a sudden stop, the end is jarring but fitting for an EP built on a love of the wonderful accidents that can happen when pushing equipment and music to the edge of beauty. Whether it’s with groups or on his own, Miles seems set to explore that edge for a long time to come.

Blaktony  on August 13, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Edgy & original: THAT WHAT I WANT, Bravo-very creative.

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