Ever since Seldom Felt performed (slightly tongue-in-cheek) in ninja masks, the anonymous techno boom has been winding down a little. Admittedly Sandwell District's forthcoming album looks set to go off big time, striking a case for the collective mindset. Whether it's in response to the anonymity game, or simply the fact that this is one of the more unique 12"s so far, Horizontal Ground change tack with this new release by listing the artist as one Bethany Skirt, a DJ who's apparently been operating on the fringes of UK techno for years now.
Stylistically, it does deviate from HG's previous releases, and though it is, at heart, a minimal techno riddim, there's a wider depth of sound, and a warmer heart than some of the previous, icy cold releases. In The Meadow Under The Stars builds up minimal clicks and swung-hi-hats to create a skeletal framework, draping it with lush, spacey synths, whilst a granite-black bassline bubbles up underneath. Possessed of the same raw-yet-rich texture that permeated AFX's early records, and it begs to be dropped at some unknown hour in the morning in a darkened club, when everyone's forgotten where they are. On the flip, Ikarus is a much nastier proposition, bringing that sub-bass to the fore, and engaging in an angry industrial battery, barely recognisable snares and toms colliding and collapsing in a muchb more peak-time climax. Closing the record is a beatless, spacey collision of metallic groans and creaks that slowly shift and mutate into a monstrously heavy drone track.
Six seems to be the maximum number an anonymous collective can sustain before the interest wears off, and with their seventh release, Horizontal Ground have managed to prove that there's still life in the minimal techno game and almost convinced me to buy their records on sight. Can't wait for the next one.