14 February 2013

The Black Dog - Return Ov The Bleep

The Black Dog - Return Ov The Bleep (11 March, Dust Science Recordings)

In their many and varied incarnations, The Black Dog have repeatedly delivered ground breaking music and reinvented themselves countless times. Approaching their 25th year as a production unit, they show no signs of drifting into the mid-life morass of pipe-and-slippers electronica, still putting out techno that's complex and intricate, whilst possessed of all the fire and fury of a steroid-enhanced bull. There's radiophonic samples, an insistence on using the arcahic "ov" in the title, and a totally arbitrary numeric titling scheme, but it's a relatively small dose of intellectualism- this is the Black Dog re-engaging with City of Steel techno, and delivering wicked fat productions. In part, they attribute this return to basics to their Electronic Supper Club project, which has seen the Black Dog nurturing the Northern electronic scene and promoting artists who were likely children when Bytes was released.
As the elder statesmen of bleep and bass, The Black Dog display a strong sense of maturity and subtly on Return ov The Bleep, with Bleep 4 and Bleep 2 on the A-side working montone waveforms for lengthy periods before carefully distressing and displacing them across a 4/4 pattern. As with all minimalism, it's a delicate balance between subtlety and boredom, but the richness of sound and the weight of the subs engulfs the dancefloor, rendering the subsequent distortions suitably gnarly. On the flipside, it's more of the same - huge basslines and skronky analogue tones for the heads, but slightly funkier beats for the feet. Bleep One bears more than a passing resemblance to Surgeon's work, with its double kicks and broken rhythm building an off-kilter techno beast. In contrast, Bleep Five fires up a massive acidic synthline and drenches it with over saturation, managing to conjoin Sheffield's history of both fired-up rave and experimental post-punk/ industrial. Since their Liber series emerged last year, the Black Dog have been one of my absolute favourite acts, and Return ov the Bleep draws from the very best of their multiple incarnations to produce techno that engages with a rich history without ever sounding overly retro, and still manages to show modern producers a few tricks.

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