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Anstam – Dispel Dances review

Continuing their relentless assault on the electronic music world through their own output and two labels, Modeselektor issue forth the second album on their club orientated 50 Weapons imprint with this highly intense collection from the somewhat shadowy Anstam. Releasing a series of 12”s on their own label to announce their arrival some four years ago, whoever is behind Anstam clearly has a confidence in the strength of their own work, and this certainly reflects in Dispel Dances from the moment it surges to life. The reference points are blurry, as a droney fug puffs up around the disembodied spirits of rhythm that provide the backbone of the album.

In the way that artists such as Tipper or Amon Tobin excel in plunging their audience into dense, brilliantly conceived sound worlds, so Anstam also manages to transport the listener to some positively otherworldly places. However, where those aforementioned craftsmen render their multitude of sonic tools in pristine production graft, Anstam opts for a more roughneck approach which only serves to make the whole experience more engulfing.

The whole style harks back to a more classic electronica aesthetic, not least on the sea-sick electro thump of “Bitten By The Snake”, which pits crisp arpeggios and a stern break against amorphous swathes of metallic orchestras and creaking bumps-in-the-night. By the time the track peters out to a sweet woodwind refrain, you’d be hard pressed to pinpoint exactly where in the track you had lost yourself. This mind-boggling technique doesn’t let up for the whole album, and yet it somehow slips into your chosen ambience naturally. Rather than the jarring nature of much experimental electronic music, Anstam still manages to be thoroughly listenable.

Whatever happens though, your preconceptions about any given track as it finds a groove can and should be ignored, as there is always another curveball gliding around the corner to set you off on an entirely different path. If you got excited by the way an artist like Shackleton flouted the rules and found a way of summoning up dark forces in his music, then Dispel Dances should be a very welcome continuation of that fine tradition.

Oli Warwick