Yves De May - Counting Triggers (Sandwell District, out now)
Moving further and further into the abstract, Sandwell District present a truly surreal double pack from Yves De May, composed of vague, minimalist sketches and empty spaces. Closer to the sub-zero electronica of Sahko, or 6K than the usual Sandwell fare, Counting Triggers elevates minimalism to fetishistic levels, cutting away at the mix to leave only a mass of sparse tones, white noise and dark ambiance. It's difficult to say whether the vinyl-only release is intended to challenge DJs, or appeal more to the collectors, but with more than a passing reference to techno, it's tempting to give it a spin. It's tricky material to work with, doing more to deconstruct techno than to emulate it, and the loping beat that emerges partway through opener Particle Match is quickly drowned out by an ugly groaning bassline. There's a few other moments that have potential too, with Whispering Strokes channeling some of Gas' hard drone stylings, but stripping away all the warmth and comfort in favour of sharpened edges and drill-tipped high-end static. Equally, closing track Resonating Red revolves around a loping dub riff and snatches of surprisingly organic sounding guitar that feels like one of Rod Modell's more introspective (or overblown) extended jams. However, despite the occasional moments of syncopation scattered across the LP, the majority of the record is composed of experiments in sound that share more with impressionist art or sound collage than "music". The magnificent Ice Carrier is definitely a favourite, stretching out analogue pings and synthesiser noise across epic levels of delay and reverb to create a dark sound bath designed to be played loud.
Should this take off, it will mark a significant turning point for Sandwell District, and much as we love Regis' epic techno marathons, it would be fantastic to see them explore a darker, more experimental direction. I'll have this one at full volume for a while yet.