Further Reductions: Woodwork (Cititrax)
This six-track EP on Minimal Wave’s Cititrax imprint comes out of leftfield as a collaborative effort between the Brooklyn duo of Shawn O’Sullivan (known for his work as Vapauteen, 400PPM and Civil Duty) and Katie Rose. Refreshingly, the pair manage to fuse together disparate elements of minimal techno, acid, early club music, industrial dance music, and noise in interesting ways. Despite being under 30 minutes in length, the two pack quite a lot in, with tracks that provide nice stark contrast to one another. My favorite tracks on Woodwork are slightly slower in tempo but have a heavy, chugging groove. Opener “High End Basics” sets the tone well, with its coarse, chugging rhythm section, brass stabs, and unintelligible vocals from Rose.
“Woodwork,” on the other hand, is the most energetic of the bunch, with no vocals and squelchy patterns over a reverberated groove. It’s the most harrowing of them all, but all of these tracks do a good job straddling something more menacing and alien alongside something that feels familiar and inviting. They have this strange lo-fi groove and reverb depth in common with the chunkier grooves of recent Andy Stott releases on Modern Love, particularly on “Spectacle Dissolved” which sounds closest to Stott’s own Luxury Problems release. The transition in its syncopated layers from dry to wet in its final moment gets me every time, a really cool way to manipulate the sound and move it further away as the track winds down. “Beyond Time” is another instrumental jam that works quite well in its position in the tracklisting, with an icy cool electro vibe immersed in FR’s usual murkier waters. But perhaps the finest moment is last, in “Death to the Beat.” Its combo of industrial dance sounds, references to minimal techno, and irresistible hook make it one of the real standouts here. I highly recommend Further Reductions to anyone interested in the splintering and merging of sounds and micro-genres and trends in electronic dance music, touching on such disparate hashtags as witch house, idm, techno, industrial, and the ever-vague “other.” Tinges of Chris & Cosey at their finest come to mind, without sounding like mere homage or pastiche. Excellent stuff.