Pev & Asusu "Surge" b/w "Remnants"
The latest release from Peverelist's, Kowton's, and Asusu's jointly-run Livity Sound label arrives just before the release of the imprint's first digital release, the double-CD compilation Livity Sound. Despite the label's relatively short lifespan, Livity Sound has a sizable reputation as an outpost for the rougher strains of UK techno, with an exploratory approach that encompasses British dance music's interactions with dub, bass, and soundsystem culture. The label eschews virtually all trappings of hype and self-serving tastemaking, issuing (at least until the release of its forthcoming compilation) vinyl-only white labels and choosing to only release music from the core trio of producers that make up the imprint. Livity Sound's eighth 12" release continues an inspired run, pairing Pev and Asusu together for the first time. The result is one of the most low-key Livity Sound releases in memory, an effort that combines eerie, Detroit-inspired synths with dense layers of rhythmic murk and grime.
A-side "Remnants" is effective in its simplicity. Built around a muffled drum track, the tune oscillates through a rotating cast of synth presets, creating a dense, unsettling soundscape of slow-burning tension and post-industrial unease. Never rising above the subdued, the track's insistent kicks nonetheless anchor its more "out there" atmospherics, a delicate balance that is achieved with remarkable efficacy. On the record's flipside, "Surge" is a prime example of the uncompromising, bass-heavy approach to techno that Livity Sound has justly been praised for. The track is an abrasive dubstep-techno hybrid, featuring a bouncy, lightly syncopated beat and clattering percussive flourishes encased in the chaotic, distorted scree of sirens and synth stabs. It's rough-hewn to the core, and as a result is infused with a very Bristolian roughness that's all too often missing from techno. Both tracks fall on the messier end of the spectrum of Livity Sound's recent releases, but are no less essential for it.
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