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  • Filed under: Review
  • 08/09/2013

Helena Hauff Actio Reactio

Hamburg's Helena Hauff has attracted a considerable amount of buzz in a short period of time. Building on her celebrated, dark electro DJ sets as a resident of the city's Golden Pudel club, she's been singled out for a dizzying ride through the publicity machine in anticipation of her debut release on Actress' Werkdiscs label, which has lately been broadening its roster beyond the usual suspects with signings like Moiré.

Actio Reactio's juggernaut of a title track ghostrides the underground zeitgeist with an arsenal of hardware drum machines clambering into and out of focus. Clocking in at 10 minutes, its length, live-jam immediacy, and in-the-red Tascam sound quality conjure the same sinister vibe that L.I.E.S.' Two Dogs in a House specialize in. And despite its single-minded focus on deploying every available drum hit while foregoing melody and narrative, it doesn't seem overly long, seemingly doubling back into strange whirlpools that fold time in on itself. It might not merit repeat home-listening sessions, but it's legitimately psychedelic for such a stripped-back set-up, and could be a brashly effective DJ tool in punky venues.

The next two tracks clear out the paranoid overgrowth, allowing those missing elements to peek through. "Break Force"'s 4/4 kicks are a welcome respite from "Actio Reactio"'s onslaught, and the song's spacious bass-drum hits are paired with slip-sliding hi-hats and a dirty 303 line that squelches and wails with leaden determination. Despite its more traditional structure, Hauff doesn't take the track anywhere unexpected, and we feel its full eight-minute duration. The brief "Micro Manifesto" rounds out the offering, forgoing drums altogether for a dirtily shimmering melodic stasis. Still, as far as manifestos go, this one has already been written many times. Actio Reactio falls victim to the expectations surrounding the producer to the same extent that they benefitted her often-fascinating Resident Advisor mix. With a collaborative release as Black Sites due out soon on the PAN label, it remains to be heard whether the immediacy of her approach to production will catch up to her uniqueness as a DJ.

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