26 May 2011

Surgeon - Breaking the Frame

Surgeon - Breaking the Frame (Downwards, out now on vinyl, CD / Digital next month)

Anthony Child returns to his Surgeon moniker with his first album in just over a decade, channeling everything from the brutalist techno of British Murder Boys, to his more experimental works with Karl O'Connor and Mick Harris into a seething melting pot of electronic head-fuckery. Considering Surgeon's vast body of work, plus his status as one of techno/dubstep's most singular DJs, there's a lot piled into Breaking the Frame - the gatefold artwork alluding to this with it's chaotic mix of colour and shape.

Dark Matter opens the record, with a series of analogue tones and glitches taken straight from Mika Vainio lilting over a subtle sub-bass, before Transparent Radiation rolls in like T++ or Dettman turning it up to full volume. We get the same treatment with Radiance and Power of Doubt, both running on grinding metallic pads and barely recognisable snares and hi-hats, utterly demolishing everything in their way. This isn't just a case of 4/4 destruction throughout though; Child continually shifts the dynamic of the tracks, ending one set of beats halfway through and giving way to an epic run-out of keys on Transparent Radiation, and indulging in some more Autechre influenced down-tempo work on Remover of Darkness.

It's undeniably Surgeon, contrasting the raw, to-the-knuckle techno, with warpy, melodic and offbeat passages. At times though, it almost feels like the repetitive beats are merely there as an afterthought, and Breaking the Frame focuses more on space, depth and atmosphere, floating off towards the end in a haze of analogue blurs and washes of sound.

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