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  • Filed under: Review
  • 05/23/2013

MGUN If You're Reading This EP

It's hard to tell whether or not there's a method to the madness that is the new EP by Manuel Gonzales (a.k.a. MGUN). Given the DJ/producer's comparably frazzled releases for Trilogy Tapes and Wild Oats, it's easy to assume that he knows exactly what he's doing. In terms of unabashed discord, however, Gonzales' prior efforts don't touch the material on If You're Reading This. Sure, elements of this sound can be traced through like-minded Detroit analog gods (Terrence Dixon in particular), but MGUN's new record ventures even further into the realms of experimental techno.

If only because of sheer track length, "Proxy" and "Tritan" serve as the EP's biggest moments. Both are teased over a seven-minute runtime and feature their fair share of mazy passages and treacherous turns. Centered around a mangled 303 belch, "Proxy" sputters along as the drum ticks and cavernous low end dictate its momentum. It comes off sounding something like the inverse of Pépé Bradock's "Mujeres Nerviosas"—instead of feeding into the frills, Gonzales violently crams them back down the hole they came from. Standout b-side "Tritan" pushes a hoarse bassline through a pasture of dexterous claps and a gathering of ramshackle synths, its patterns gradually disintegrating only to reappear further down the line, never the same as when they left. Gonzales himself would likely have a tough time mapping the trajectory of his tunes.

The other four tracks bear some fully fleshed-out themes despite their relatively short durations. On "Funnel Vision," overhead dissonance is offset by a brutalist thump that eventually disolves into the aether. It's both aggressive and spry, an unforgiving effort with only a glimmer of reprieve. "Jijijijij$ijijijiji" is just about as absurd as its name would suggest, with blender-propelled turntable scratches diced into an aloof beat. Bookending If You're Reading This are "Hand Over Fifth" and "Bean Chirp," respectively, each serving a distinct purpose on their polar ends. The opener exists gleefully ignorant of the strange sounds that follow, while the final cut is more or less the sound of smoke clearing. Offering the most traditional rhythm on MGUN's record, "Bean Chirp" sounds as if its paying for its simplicity while it hacks through a shroud of noxious distortion. It might've been more satisfying if the EP's shorter tunes had more time to fold and contort around themselves, but seeing as how Gonzales has quickly forged this sound, it's more likely that these idiosyncrasies are a necessary part of what makes his music so unique.

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