MKFN: This Divide (Touchin’ Bass)
This latest installment from the international trio of Babar Raza (US), Ovais Hassan (UK), and Fahad Ahmad (Canada) is my first exposure to their forward-thinking techno, and it’s one of the better EPs I’ve heard this year. This Divide seems to capture the rolling dub of seminal records on the Berlin Chain Reaction imprint (particularly Various Artists), but with a much deeper sense of space and a darker, thicker low end. While these tracks could work in a techno set with a masterful hand on the decks, I find them to be completely stunning as headphones listening. They shudder with a nervous energy that feels both deep and claustrophobic all at once. “Terrain” has a frantic gallop about it, with rolling delays and a relentless lurch. It has all of the frantic energy of the most furious and fast drum & bass, and yet it’s just that: drum and bass, thunderous kicks and low end with only an ominous hovering atmosphere. “Somewhere” follows suit, with a wetter, more filtered sound, reminding me of some of Vladislav Delay’s most out there sounds and yet underpinned by a very immediate, regular meter. Its gliding chords illuminate it more than other tracks on the release, a welcome contrast despite sharing so much else in common soundwise.
“Inland” bristles with the claustrophobia of being landlocked, its bass kicks and snares colliding and sputtering as wildly as anything from the likes of Autechre. And yet there are spacious rims and a jerky swagger to ground it, to give it some street flair and encourage regular movement. “Stasis” is a chunkier groove, with dubby chords and a fog of reverb to lend it a certain coolness and ease. It gives the ears the rest its name denotes, room to breathe as a welcome comedown. Highly recommended for fans of leftfield and forward thinking techno and bass music; likely appeal for fans of Demdike Stare, Various Artists, Lucy, Lakker, Plaster.