Will & Ink is a new project from Amsterdam-based producers Pieter Willems (a.k.a. Presk) and Felix Lenferink and Fermat is the debut release both for the duo and its eponymous label. Individually, these artists have each dabbled in garage-flecked house and techno—records like Presk's "Hesitate" and Lenferink's "Bouree" are warehouse cuts infused with a rhythmic playfulness in the vein of fellow countryman 2562—but together, they've cast off 2-step in favor of another Dutch export—driving techno.
The pair's sound is raw and unrelenting, recalling the live-to-tape recordings of The Analogue Cops, an aesthetic due in part to Will & Ink's use of custom-built hardware, which forms the bedrock of the project's studio productions and live shows. The fledgling label is being distributed by Delsin, and Fermat recalls the long-standing Dutch imprint's releases from the likes of Conforce and Mike Dehnert, with meager elements somehow made to sound cavernous. Take the opener, which features little more than a boxy kick drum underpinning offbeat bass stabs, with piercing hi-hats pulsing above them both. It's a formula that stays largely unchanged for the duration—the rhythm is joined at intervals by a ride cymbal, a warped bell, and jackhammer snare cracks—but a slight syncopation between drums and sub gives "First Fermat" a galloping energy that belies its spartan construction.
"Second Fermat" expands on the formula with a call-and-response playoff between the bass and the implementation of what, in Will & Ink's monochrome world, constitutes a melody. Though the track is constructed of similarly raw elements as the opening cut, it feels funkier; the abrasiveness of the percussion has been given a touch of polish, and the introduction of an (admittedly warped and sliced) vocal makes things feel more organic. Simultaneously machine-like and human, it's not unlike the late-'90s minimal of Robert Hood. The closer is the starkest tune of the bunch, with only chattering hi-hats and a grinding, static-tinged synth joining a bass drum that could have been plucked from a Dave Clarke record. Again, the music appears functional and tool-like, but there's a real bounce from a rhythm that pulls slightly against the beat. It's subtle, but when the music is this unforgiving, it's those little touches that stand out.