Sendai - Geotope (Time to Express, 26th March)
Peter Van Hoesen and Yves De May's Sendai project returns with a full length album of super-minimalist sound explorations that probe the relationships between technology and music, melody and form, mechanical aesthetics and pure machinery. Whilst Sendai is more than just the sum of it's parts, the seeming disparity between Peter Van Hoesen's brutalist techno style and Yve's De May's delicate audio-engineering provides an analytical framework for Geotope, which imposes a minimal aesthetic onto the techno template until it begans to collapse inwards under the weight.
Whilst the likes of Terminal Silver Box and Win Tepsit / Brief Delay could easily be mistaken for somnambulant doom or wallpaper-esque drone, with their cavernous groans and swathes of noise, there's the most spectral sense of rhythm that pervades everything - a repeated snap of static that might be a snare, or noticeably quantised swathes of noise. Equally, when Sendai indulge in obviously beat-driven tracks such as A Refusal To Celebrate A Statistic A Probability, or the AFX-inflected Further Vexations, the percussion continually buckles under brutal layers of distortion and grain delay, never allowing a solid groove to build up. Throughout the album noise defeats melody and abstraction is key, with Sendai dismantling the techno blueprint, taking it apart from the ground up, using decaying machinery and white noise to distort anything recognisable.
Towards the latter half of the record, Sendai ease up on the white noise headfuckery, and give the listener two sublimely screwy tracks that verge on techno genius in EP2010-4- and Geotope. The former sits somwhere between Sandwell and Sahko, with a truly monstrous wall of bass and shortened bleep melodies, whilst the latter's slow-loping beat and watery melodies are utterly devastating and demands to be played loud. Despite the almost aggressive resistance to techno's norms, Geotope provides a solid narrative and evolution that proves rewarding listening. Closing track Emptiness of Attention feels like one of Move D's weirder moments, with a bubbbling bassline filtering up and down, punctuated by synth flourishes and static, before breaking down into a drained ambient coda. It's at oninfuriating and somehow a perfect close to a dense and tricky album.