Physical Therapy, born Daniel Fisher, is given the reins for Liberation Technologies’ tenth label outing in the form of a 6-track EP, ‘Hit the Breaks’. On it, the Berlin-based artist provides an undulating march through the realms of Techno and Breakbeat without compromising his flitting, genre-less approach to production, proven all too well by his dance-centric anything goes label, Allergy Season. Check the Acre Hyp 170 mix for a colder cut from the man, with remix treatment provided by Berghain heavyweight, Norman Nodge.
The title track simmers at the start of the record at a slower tempo than expected, and the combination of breaks and bass is crisp and well articulated, not dissimilar to that early Polykicks number we know all too well. The bonus beat on the flip is an overdriven mutation of the original and its heavy idiosyncratic drum work will knock you in and out of consciousness. This weighty approach to drums seems to be a theme and standout track ‘Tell Me’ doesn’t disappoint in this regard. That said, it’s the swung interludes that really make this bit work; while Fisher acknowledges the importance of a strong skeleton with 4×4 foundations, he effortlessly experiments by weaving between the hallowed ground of the ‘on-beat’ and ‘off-beat’ either side.
‘Mahnbescheid’ and ‘Clean Slate’ are stalwart in Techno aesthetics and display Fisher’s ability to create atmosphere through ominous pads with creeping attack on the former and spectral synth arpeggio work on the latter. ‘Pointalism’ is another cut worthy of recognition. The drones lay the groundwork in preparation for anthemic strings that will loop in and around you, leaving you somewhat dumbstruck. It’s almost a shame they aren’t more present, leaving as quickly as they came, only to return at the close.
On the EP sleeve, a person strolls knowingly across the road with traffic succinctly halted at the line, with actual feet on literal brakes – it’s safe and predictable, unlike what the grooves of the record have in store. It isn’t comfortable listening, rather discombobulating and unnerving, but this is a good thing. Though all too easy to link the recent popularity of House and Techno in the UK to a subsequent drop in quality output, it’s innovative labels like Liberation Technologies that quell this myth with releases like this.
‘Hit the Breaks’ is out now on Liberation Technologies. Order it here.
Words: Nick Moore