AnD – ‘Cosmic Microwave Background’ (Electric Deluxe)

AnD are an elusive pair whose catalogue to date indicates the makings of formidable duo of Techno artists. Previous releases on shadowy label Horizontal Ground – the imprint associated with the equally elusive Frozen Border, pitch them alongside some of the more prolific names in a murky underworld of Industrial Techno sub-culture; Mary Velo, Regis, Samuel Kerridge, Szare and DJ Skirt for example. They are also associated with Electric Deluxe; with previous outings on the label having presented their name to a further reaching audience alongside artists such as Gary Beck and Tommy Four Seven.

This latest offering is an exploration into our perception of space, time and reality, a study of the grey area between the real and something else that lies on the edge of our universe, the fittingly named ‘Cosmic Microwave Background’ being an abstraction of the CMB Radiation that exists as a sort of residue in the known Universe, a remnant of the Big Bang and in fact what gave the theory of the moment of creation far greater impetus than any other observation before it. In the grey areas of Techno there is a underlying current of questioning what constitutes music versus sound and in this particular piece AnD have done so quite aptly by varying tempo’s and sculptures to transcend their typically faster style of music.

‘Particle’ opens the record with a disturbing grumble and a building arp that swiftly denies any hopes of a softer search into the ambient aspects of their sound, followed by a similarly twisted slower work-out in ‘The Epoch of Recombination’. The next two tracks perhaps lie in the most familiar territory; out and out minimalist brutality, with a scintillating dose of white noise over the top for good measure. ‘Power Spectrum’ and ‘Cosmic Strings’ are the sorts of tracks that will likely provide continued support from some of Techno’s biggest figures. The interpretation of soundscapes comes into play on ‘Relic Radiation’ – an apt nickname for the title’s root – which begins feeling like it could turn into a similar powerhouse as the previous two tracks but in fact creeps into a festering march of melancholy, the excited hats the primary driver of the track’s pace. More raw power follows on ‘Gravitational Waves’ and ‘Photon Visibility Function’, cuts that typify the aggressive Berghain-informed sound that has seen a rise in popularity of late, but that actually pertain to the much more local Birmingham sound of the mid-90’s.

‘Non-Sky Signal’ is an amalgamation of guitar riffs and modulation that makes it increasingly difficult to identify one genre for the album; the brakes are slammed on during this chugging track that remains one of the most intriguing parts of the experiment, this track has the characteristics of a dance floor-shattering re-imagination. And again on ‘Galactic Motion’, the caustic squelches dripping in white noise are paired with a half-time tempo that is usually associated with Dubstep to take the track into another realm, turning it into anything but that.
‘The Surface of Last Scattering’ is a more sophisticated sign-off to the album. Glassy notes sprinkled over a haunting, intermittent organ produce a chilling melody, ending the piece on an explorative high and ultimately displaying AnD’s skills in crafting music that searches for different emotions, as well as firmly stamping their authority on the type of techno that the UK does such a brilliant job of exporting.

‘Cosmic Microwave Background’ is out now on Electric Deluxe. Buy it here.

Oliver Todd

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