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  • Filed under: Review
  • 05/17/2013

_Unsubscribe_ Spek Hondje EP

At one point during the mid '90s, radio legend John Peel bestowed upon Dave Clarke the title of "The Baron of Techno." The nickname has stuck ever since. And though the aughts weathered his legacy some, Clarke and his contributions to the genre during the decade prior have proven to be integral in dictating the current landscape of UK techno; his output from the period rivals that of grandfathered icons like Luke Slater and Surgeon. As such, fledgling Fabric offshoot Houndstooth seems like a curious choice to release the debut from _Unsubscribe_, a duo comprised of Clarke and studio partner Mr. Jones. Despite some history with the seminal London club—particularly, his 2011 entry into the Fabric mix series—Clarke doesn't seem like the obvious choice to follow up Call Super's inaugural release for Houndstooth. Whereas that EP was amorphous and understated, Spek Hondje is truly anything but.

Until now, _Unsubscribe_ had only dabbled in remix work. A quick scan of those tracks foreshadows the sound of Clarke's new project—most notably, the knob-abusing nature of Erol Alkan's and Boys Noize's collaborative tryst and Ben Sims' spinal-tap severity. Every aspect of a-side "Vox Spek Hondje" begets that kind of peaktime mania. Bulging from the jump, the production's momentum pushes at the inseams, stuffing a glut of "techno sounds" into the mix with each escalating bar. The initial bruising bassline is present from the start, used as a constant throughout the ensuing combat zone of mistimed explosions, overhead spasms, and a detached robot forever counting "10." A vocal contribution from Bear Who? tops the carnage, informing us that he is "the rhythm rider." If this all sounds convoluted, that's because it is. Taken as a standalone listen, it nears absurdity. But there's nonetheless a lingering sense that—when placed in the hands of a DJ who revels in this grave lunacy, such as Clarke himself—it could cause absolute damage.

The flip offers a bit of reprieve. With less cacophony to crowd the ascension and no vocals in the mix, "Inst Spek Hondje" feels more pronounced, remorseless even, allowing the aforementioned bassline to do all the talking necessary. A "Bassapella" version is available in the digital package, but it's a rather non-essential addition to the tracklist, as it mars the original production into a frayed haze while burying its propulsion. In the context of Houndstooth's brief catalog, the release broadens the barriers—a wise move if it hopes to avoid solidifying listener expectations this early into its existence. And in relation to Clarke's quarter-century-spanning cannon, _Unsubscribe_ feels like a proper shot in the arm, not to mention a reminder that Peel's tastes still reign supreme.

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