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Blond:ish: Wunderkammer (Kompakt)

My loyalty for Kompakt has wavered over the years, but they always hold a special place in my heart as a label for instilling in me an appreciation for highly minimal, cerebral techno, even as their focus has shifted far from that over the years. Blond:ish is the Montreal-based duo of Vivie-Ann Bakos and Antstasia D’Elene, and the sounds of Wunderkammer (which translates to “Cabinet of Curiosities”) are fairly tightly wound, tried and true techno that fits well into the Kompakt landscape. The title cut can be found on Kompakt’s recent annual round-up, Total 14, but the EP is worth it for the other cuts as well. “Wunderkammer” is propelled forward by a driving, repetitive bass hook and melancholy patterns, built around a crisp, tidy drum arrangement. I particularly like it when the leads wander a little bit more, sounding more exploratory rather than locked in step. “Birds Eat Birds” is punchier, moving at a faster clip and some more industrial grind to its sort of refrain. It’s by far the most direct and most aggressive track on the release, a stark contrast to the chilled out vibe of “Stolen Romance,” the last track, a collaboration with Audysea. He contributes guitar and ethereal vocalizing to an otherwise mid-tempo, patient groove. What Audysea brings to the mix strongly affects its sound, feeling far more lonely and organic than the other two more straightforward club tracks.

They all work well together as a suite, like a bell curve of tautness that slopes gently toward the end with the more languid flow of “Stolen Romance.” Another sleeper gem from Kompakt worth a listen.

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