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The Black Dog Radio Scarecrow

  • Words: Janet Tzou
  • Label: Soma
  • XLR8R Rating: 9/10

Ken Downie has piloted The Black Dog for years without former bandmates Ed Handley and Andy Turner, but his new album, Radio Scarecrow, revisits the same “intelligent” aesthetic that the trio established together nearly two decades ago. It’s all moody stuff: sweeping ambient and melancholy washes pierce these techno rhythms, creating a clean, high-tech Detroit sound. More than anything, this vibrant nexus echoes the ebb and flow of the gritty cityscape: rugged bass and lean melody course through these tracks like surging electricity, powerfully fueling these mighty urban textures. Check the supple beauty of “EVP Echoes,” “Siiiipher,” “Digital Poacher,” and “UV Sine,” each displaying an invigorating mix of stripped-down bass and gentle, spare atmospherics that strongly recalls early ‘90s techno on classic imprints like Warp (“Set to Receive” has a vintage Autechre synth line). A welcome throwback that only proves the enduring timelessness of thoughtfully composed techno.

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