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Surgeon – Breaking The Frame review

Given that he hasn’t released an album in more than a decade, it must have been tempting for Anthony Child to follow the example set by some of his peers and just keep DJing all over the world. Thankfully, the Birmingham-based producer chose not to take the easy option and Breaking The Frame shows that the creative fire that fuelled Force & Form, Patience and Balance still burns brightly. It’s the second time he’s released an album on his own Dynamic Tension label, following 2000’s Body Request, and his seventh overall, although there have been a glut of singles in that time as well as last year’s excellent Fabric mix.

Like his previous long players, a good part of Breaking The Frame is devoted to abstract sounds and textures. This is no concession towards current trends, but rather glimpses of the elixir, the sonic glue that binds the rest of his music. So while “Dark Matter” and “We Are Already Here” emit pontilist hisses and droning, atonal frequencies respectively, they do not exist in a vacuum. The same strength through repetition applies on the jangling loops on “Presence”, which, by Child’s standards is relatively mellow, a cacophony of lithe, acoustic humming unfolding over slow motion, gloopy beats.

Likewise on “Remover Of Darkness”, eerie organs appear to hover in a loop until their gradual descent into gamelan-like repetition. “Power Of Doubt” pushes this ethereal sensibility onto the dancefloor thanks to snappy broken beats, and, even when he veers into more conventional, straighter 4/4s, as he does on “Those Who Do Not”, the galloping beats are accompanied by spacey filters and eerie sound tapestries. The most incendiary moment comes halfway through, with the relentless, pummelling slab of techno otherwise known as “Radiance”. Breaking The Frame is on a par with Surgeon’s very best work, in some ways the logical progression of Force & Form – and its title neatly sums up this work and pretty much everything else he turns his hand to.

Richard Brophy