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  • Filed under: Review
  • 02/13/2012

Pick

Objekt "Cactus" b/w "Porcupine"

Hessle Audio continues to assert itself as one of the most reliable sources for forward-thinking electronic music, tapping the relatively fresh producer Objekt for two tracks that are as sophisticated and expertly crafted as they are absolutely visceral.

Both "Cactus" and "Porcupine" are two of the most techno-informed tracks to appear on Hessle's discography to date, essentially making no effort to appear aligned with any of the current UK flavors. Still, each track somehow seems entirely appropriate for the current bass-music climate, and has no trouble falling into place amongst the lineage that Ben UFO, Pangea, and Pearson Sound have built their imprint's reputation around. The a-side, "Cactus," may have been helped along in this process by its appearance on Ben UFO's Rinse 16 mix, where the track took hold with its larger-than-life percussion and unnerving—yet somehow entirely not cliched—wobble. "Cactus" is aggressive in the most controlled of manners, with the main modulating bass synth moving through different octaves and signal chains, rendering it crisply distorted at times and massively full at others. The rhythms are built in steps, eventually adding half-time snares and claps to the jagged beat when the song reaches its apex. Clearly, Objekt's aim here was on crafting a "big tune" for the dancefloor, but has managed to do so without dumbing anything down in the process. As such, Objekt has made what may very well prove to be the year's most intelligent banger.

The flipside is an even more cerebral endeavor. "Porcupine" seems less interested in the club (not that it's inappropriate for that setting) and more interested in crafting a genuine electronic composition. The propulsive drums and finely orchestrated synths recall the work of Aphex Twin, not necessarily in their shared likeness to IDM, but more in their ability to weave a path that is almost impossible to follow while still managing to feel like a natural progression. It sounds completely machine-made, but contains an undeniable infusion of human intuition. There's a surprise around every corner of "Porcupine," but nothing is ever jarring enough to confuse; instead, you are constantly trying to anticipate what pattern will take over next, what percussive element will fill the gaps, or what dense pad will float up from the bottom, only to be whisked away in a completely different direction. It's the kind of song that demands a number of listens to wrap your head around, but proves worth the effort in the end.

Clearly, there's something risky about "Cactus" and "Porcupine" in that they both come so dangerously close to reaching modern dubstep taboos—the songs' rumbling bass and the heavy, stepping drums in particular. However, it is in this blurry region that Objekt finds a way to reinvigorate the once-touchstone facets of the genre and comes up with two brilliant and unique tracks to add to the increasingly essential Hessle discography.

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