There has always been something about techno whereby the more anonymous the music, the more exciting it seems to be. Make no mistake – there is little on this new EP by Mancunian duo, AnD, which marks it out as being from the chronological now. The sounds are all classically analogue. There is a tendency towards sandblasted distortion, which is a bit fashionable at the moment, but the truth is that this is something that has peaked and troughed throughout techno’s now extensive history. These four tracks could have been made anytime between now and about 1992. And yet, somehow, they feel exciting and vital. Probably by way of never quite being accepted (and, therefore, gentrified) as part of the mainstream, techno has managed to somehow maintain a visage of being part of an eternal now. AnD understand this and play along, turning deep traditions into the playthings of the present.
From the opening, distorted kick of ‘Manchester’, the EP is aggressively propulsive. But there is a subtlety to factors such as the layering of different distorted kick drum sounds, or the layering of clinically pure synth arpeggios, which keep the music from being bludgeoning machismo, however. ‘Manchester’ evolves into a bit of a revamp of the string section from the Psycho shower scene, if it was filmed at Berghain. Its spluttering hats and snares deny the luxury of repetition, enhancing the feeling of agitation it presents. ‘Analogical’, as the title suggests, is probably the most steeped in tradition of the tracks, with its synth arpeggios creating the kind of single note excitement that has been a key to techno’s minimalism for decades. It gains complexity as it progresses, but never strays from the pull of its modal flatness.
There’s a good chance that ‘Prophecy’ is named for the classic Korg synth that may well be used to create its rubber-band synth sounds (though I’m just guessing at this). These elastic mini-melodies set the track apart from the rest of the EP in that it does not remain on a single chord, but cycles through a brief chordal structure. The building intensity of said synth bleeps also become the only time where the rhythms play a subservient role across the EP, rather than act as the main feature. Closer, ‘Transit’, is the most chaotic of the pieces, with its synth arpeggios maintaining a discordant obtuseness, no matter how much the straight-up, pumping beats try to enforce rigidity. It is a satisfying way to round out a collection of works which don’t so much explore new ground as pummel home the idea that, as with individual tracks within it, the entire genre of techno is built upon the purity of minor, subtle shifts and that its sheer doggedness gives it a sense of complete timelessness.