As AnD, Manchester-based duo Andrew Bowen and Dimitri Poumplidis have spent the last eight years charting the more dark, brutalist and industrial-edged end of the post-techno spectrum, their deconstructed and charred soundscapes often sitting closer to dark ambient and noise. While the duo’s 2014 debut album ‘Cosmic Microwave Background’ saw them exploring the violent processes involved in the universe’s creation, three years on this follow-up ‘Social Decay’ sees them focusing on more earthly themes and as its title suggests, offers up what’s easily a more gritty ‘street level’ view than its predecessor.
It’s also something of a monolithic work that’s definitely not for the fainthearted, running in at 76 minutes in length and offering the listener little in the way of respite. ‘First Element’ opens things comparatively gently as whining background tones squeal against buffeting surges of digitally processed kicks, claustrophobic bass pressure and atonally buzzing synths, the entire track shifting and flexing with an unpredictable sense of tension that’s never resolved, even as snatches of glassy melodies rear their heads through the murk, only to be suddenly jerked away.
‘Corrupted Structures’ gets even darker and more abstracted as arrhythmic breakbeats lurch and stutter against distorted ranting vocals, the rhythms accelerating into steel-coiled mutant jungle as howling feedback squeals in the background, the voices rising in intensity as juddering bass tones flicker beneath. If this album feels impenetrable at points during its first half, as things develop, more recognisable rhythmic structures start to rise to the forefront. ‘Pandemonium’ offers up a poisonous industrial-hiphop stomp that sees distorted trash-can breaks and splashy snares powering away beneath eerie industrial background ambience and digitally processed vocals, the gauzy toxic layers barely disguising one hell of a groove (think The Bug meets the nastier side of Amon Tobin).
Elsewhere, ‘Resisting Authority’ offers up some of the most ferocious dancefloor punishment on offer here as dark EBM synths prowl against flexing arrhythmic breakbeats, vast steel-plate percussion runs locking in around the beats as the brittle electronics rise in chattering intensity, the most immediate association evoked being hardcore rave pushed down some stygian industrial tunnel. An impressive second album from AnD that significantly expands on the duo’s harsh, deconstructed approach.