Akkord – ‘Navigate’ EP (Houndstooth)

The fact that the newly minted Houndstooth label only began releasing records this year and has almost instantly become a household name in electronic circles, is testament to the superb A&R work that Rob Booth has executed for Fabric’s new artist-led endeavour. Following on from the House of Black Lanterns debut album and EP, and releases from Call Super and techno icon Dave Clarke (under his _Unsubscribe_ guise) comes the latest project from Mancunian duo Akkord, with their new EP ‘Navigate.’

Having dabbled in their own unique way with housey/techno on ‘Akkord002’, the pair return closer to the seeds they sowed on their influential debut release ‘Akkord001’, juggling between the 130bpm bangers they are known for with the more languid bounce of the 110bpm bracket.

The opener ‘Navigate’ kicks the EP off with a muscular but minimal, almost breaks-inspired drum pattern. Constructed with punchy, deep kicks and layered, wooden sounding snare noises sit on top of crafted sub-bass lines that meld into the percussion and accompanying figures. Techy vocal stutters, alien sound effects and the pervasive hiss of analogue equipment give the track a dark, immersive edge.

With ‘Compound’, Akkord, like Vex’d before them, utilise synth and sample memes present in grime, dubstep and the darker strains of drum and bass to propel the track forward. However, instead of treading the same water, they combine these elements with deep and meditative tribal percussive treatments and simple toned bass lines rather than the all-out rage and aggression that Vex’d employed.

‘Deconstruction’ unites a steady, half-time, kick-n-snare pulse with upfront, syncopated one shots. This provides an accompaniment to the drum work but also works in conjunction with the well-designed bass timbres and noises, flipping up later into an unrelenting industrial techno banger.

Rounding off the release, ‘Title Sequence’ slows the pace and mellows things out, using smeared, atmospheric vocal samples and dub-techno inspired chord progressions to create a Burial-esque number.

Again, Houndstooth come correct with an EP that fits in with the current trend of dark, 130bpm orientated bass music, exemplified by the output of labels such as Keysound. Yet, rather than leaning on customs and traditions associated with UK funky and grime, Akkord draw on a techno-flecked sound palette – one that hasn’t been expanded on since their first release but still sounds fresh and exciting in the context they present it. An absolutely stellar release.

Al Kennedy