Szare, Horizontal Ground 11

[Horizontal Ground]

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Describing your music as “arcane rhythm structures excavated and remodeled by hand” certainly invites a bit of skepticism, especially when it’s written on the label of nominally a techno record. Techno hardly inspires feelings of having been “hand made,” nor of having been “excavated.” But for as long as we’ve known Szare (ever since emerging from Horizontal Ground’s initial period of anonymity), they’ve shown a willingness to be a bit looser with techno than most: always operating within the 4/4 pulse, but doing pretty much whatever they want otherwise. Their music is incredibly reduced, even by Horizontal Ground’s Robert Hood/Dan Bell referencing standards, but always captivating, both at home and in the club.

The A1 is a short cut of simply a kick drum, some bass rubs, radar bloops, and reversed samples, but for all of the space in the production (and this does sound like it was recorded in some huge cavern) it doesn’t leave the listener wanting for anything extra. It nails the vibe Szare have been honing since their debut — something like “opium-den techno” — and at a tantalizing three minutes, it knows just when to pull the plug. The A2 brings the hi-hats and nods to the “…by hand” part of the record’s description with flurries of seemingly hand-played percussion. It’s minimalist rhythm music of the highest grade, with enough slight variations to keep intrigue stoked and banging peaks coming almost out of nowhere (no white-noise “whooshes” here). The B-side is a bit more techno by the books, which, while no less effective and devastating in clubs, is probably a bit less interesting than the A-side cuts to those listening at home. There is, as there always has been, a glut of reduced techno around at the moment, but labels like Horizontal Ground and artists like Szare prove a little ingenuity can go a long way.

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