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  • Filed under: Review
  • 08/23/2013

Black Sites Prototype EP

As residents at the famously grungy and musically unpredictable Golden Pudel in Hamburg, Helena Hauff and F#X are responsible for club nights that stretch far beyond typical templates, often embracing atonality and punk scuzz. It's fitting, then, that the duo's collaboration as Black Sites should debut on PAN, the Berlin-based record label led by Bill Kouligas that has an equally cagey approach to genre, contorting noise, drone, and distortion into addictive forms. The Prototype EP reinforces this reputation for experimentation with two mangled tracks of hallucinogenic techno.

"Prototype" is atonal, with jagged loops skittering beneath guttural squawks and analog artifacts. It's 10 minutes long but storms throughout, with crackling melodies emerging from the concrete palette. The track is colored by a looming malevolence, yet it still hits just the right balance of gunk and propulsion that would be expected from Sandwell District or Marcel Dettmann's dirtier work.The energy deflates during the outro, but the unspooling sounds intentional; it's as though a giant squid is attacking a submarine, only to realize that it isn't worth the effort and decides to just swim off instead.

Hauff's darkwave and EBM influences are more pronounced on "N313P," whose title alludes to one of Detroit's original telephone area codes. Despite the abrasive palette of screeching bird chirps and slabs of vinyl noise, "N313P" is a party-starting piece of stentorian electro that should be used as a prime argument against those who deride PAN's output as too obtuse. Nevertheless, when compared to the mechanical noise of "Prototype," the track is muffled and almost earthy, with a droning bassline that functions as a powerful counterweight to the flurry of scratches throughout the composition. Along with colorful bleeps, it conjures the image of a chemical spill in a crowded nightclub, only the effects are so intoxicating that no one wants to leave the floor.

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