Label: Infinite Machine
Release Date: 11/03/13
‘Suction Clip’, the recent Hound Scales EP for Montreal’s Infinite Machine is smothered in a layer of grit and dirt that goes miles deep. This won’t come as a surprise to those who’ve been keeping up with Nico Jacobsen’s music - the Brooklyn resident makes a unique form of uncompromising, degraded Techno, with an inspired knack for filling his tracks with strangely oscillating shapes & a strongly individual character.
The title track is a heated exchange between thumping kick and woodblock pattern, that’s fully primed for instant use in any hard techno set, it’s floor-ready & ruthlessly efficient. The whole thing has a distinctly corroded atmosphere, like it’s the amplified death-spasms of some archaic clockwork mechanism. It’s got a more immediate payoff than its brother on the EP, ‘Dorian Hope’. Where that track overwhelms with its slowly creeping intensity, ‘Suction Clip’ finds Hound Scales content to simply power up his machines and let them run. In doing so, the track manages to reach that sublime plateau of Techno repetition, usually the reserve of more experienced producers. Around the halfway point brightly crunched up dubby chords enter, widening the tracks horizon; but soon they trip up, getting stuck on a single chord as if they have been tangled up in the clockwork – before running the track into the ground. It’s a clever structural idea that works to the tracks advantage, highlighting the muscular stomp of the drums so that their contours are in sharp focus.
_‘_Dorian Hope’ starts as it means to go on, with a blast of harsh, whistling noise. The shifting drones are then artfully collaged on top of a mechanical, chugging rhythm that recalls the bustle & clank of a subway. The track is built around a growing feeling of uneasy, inevitable doom which never lets up. A steadily encroaching bass line emerges out of the tunnel of noise, and later on there is the slightest impression of a melody trying to surface for air – but it never quite makes it. The dense, cloying atmospheres in the track makes it an interesting take on the standard industrial techno formula. It could fit nicely into a mix as a bridge away from the hard stuff; to thriftier, calmer pastures, while that weighty bass builds threateningly underneath.
Aptly, ‘Suction Clip’ has been uploaded to YouTube alongside a torture scene from Shozin Fukuis’ nightmarish Japanese cyber-noir Rubbers Lover. The affinity this music has with the stranger side of cinema is clear: the soundscape is rich, textural and full of atmosphere, while the intentional weathering of the sounds recalls Fukuis’ use of black & white film.
This EP presents a fresh new take on the muddier, harder side of techno, vital at a time when a lot of the music being released feels like simply treading water. Both tracks are sewn together with an awkward swing that is fast becoming a Hound Scales trademark - off-the-grid & so strongly committed to being so, that it can’t help but have a strangely effective groove. Both also build up and then undermine expectations in clever, subtle ways. This is alienating music which works well in any setting because of the care and attention with which its been built. While it’s only Jacobsen’s second release proper, he’s already showcasing a sound entirely his own, and this EP represents a promising continuation of that trajectory. I for one can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.