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Disco Nihilist – Running (Far Away) review

When Mike Taylor’s first 12” dropped on Love What You Feel in 2009, a lot was written about his distinctly DIY approach to music-making. Like the early pioneers of house and techno, the Austin, Texas-based bedroom producer known as the Disco Nihilist makes raw and uncompromising music using analogue sequencers and various other bits of hardware kit. For that first release – and his subsequent vinyl outings on Construction Paper – Taylor recorded his tracks straight to cassette before submitting demos, given them a faithfully fuzzy, low-fi quality. It’s an old trick, but one that helped to give his homemade jams a genuine old skool feel.

Whether he’s used the same approach on this first 12”/digital release for Running Back is unknown, but it certainly sounds that way. Like his previous releases, Running (Far Away) is full of instrumental experiments that sound both authentically old and vacuum-packed fresh. The six tracks here offer a neat round up of Taylor’s talents and inspirations. “Greasy Grind” opens proceedings with a swift punch to the kidneys, combining brain-melting acid tweakery with impressively fuzzy industrial beats; think Cabaret Voltaire jamming with Phuture, recorded on a battered old eight-track, and you’re close. “Keep It Simple” continues the stripped-back acid theme, offering a floor-shaking concoction that is little more than heavyweight beats and bubbling 303-trickery. There’s a clue in the title. “A New Career In A New Town”, meanwhile, veers off into hypnotic dub-house territory. The composition is a little more complex and the aural palette more sophisticated, but it still retains that pleasing simplicity and lo-fi charm that marks out Taylor’s work.

“December 5th” sounds like an amalgamation of the EP’s first two tracks, this time recorded on the Starship Enterprise after a crash-landing on a planet made entirely of ice. Then there’s “Sci-Fi On Tape”, a surprisingly warm concoction that stumbles into Mr Fingers/Bobby Konders territory, like early Virgo Four after a fistful of little ‘uns. “Coffee & A Warm Paperback” continues this theme, wrapping sugary electric piano chords around a brilliantly simple groove. Taylor clearly has talent, and his dedication to the original DIY ethos of house music is admirable. Of course, style is nothing without substance, but Running (Far Away) has that in spades.

Matt Anniss