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  • Filed under: Review
  • 04/26/2013

Terrence Dixon Giant Robot EP

Listeners can infer much about Terrence Dixon's singular approach to techno from the fact that Actress—always the beguiler, never the beguiled—seems stumped about how to handle his remix commission for the Detroit veteran's new EP. Dixon's loops are severe and resistant to change, obeying some impetus from so deep within it may as well be from beyond. His splintery 2012 album, From the Far Future Pt. 2, is a bunch of heaped dervishes, paranoid cacophonies of samples that were probably organic in a distant past life, like the streams of human trash that will bob and thread through space after our planet explodes. Giant Robot's four Dixon originals, plus the Actress remix mentioned above, provide more glimpses of this rickety, cryptic futurism.

There's a paradoxically relaxing effect to such a tightly controlled loop-scape. Much of Dixon's magic relies on what feels like direct synapse manipulation, the kind of pure sensing mode that viewers of op art experience, a stasis of pure motion. Along these lines, the stunning "Self Portrait" produces an immediate contact high. A prickly clump of synth notes splashes against itself while Dixon's voice echoes menacingly in the sewers below, eventually giving way to a sample of Frank Zappa (!), whose naturally uneven cadences and nasal drone Dixon exaggerates to the point of abstraction by playing with the tape speed. The EP's other three cuts have at least some gestural anchoring that keeps the nervous-system hypnosis in balance with some form of semantic development. There's a drum-machine hustle here, pads shot forth in a cubist manner there, and the tangled double-bass sounds Dixon is so fond of on "Tales from the West Side"'s schizo jazz. Actress' "Self Portrait" remix is a cool bonus, but an atypically modest affair, making clear how productive Actress's misapprehension of Detroit has been in his own music. Here, he's hewing microscopically closer to someone else's vision, and a certain sumptuousness is missing. Giant Robot is a neat reminder that the future, like Cthulu, used to be terrifying. Now, it's a shitty internet joke. Luckily, techno fans can glimpse something indigenously esoteric within the genre via Dixon's hallucinatory imagination.

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