Skirt – Bitten By The Black Dog
For a label that had been associated with anonymous, linear techno until now, Horizontal Ground has certainly changed tack recently. First there was Samuel Kerridge’s Gothic ambience and now this, a release featuring UK techno’s newest star and one of its oldest practitioners.
The Black Dog will always have a special place in this writer’s heart, mainly due to the Bytes and Spanners albums, which adroitly fused Detroit techno with abstract electronics and the spirit of UK hardcore. Of course that was then (the early to mid 90s) and this is now, and The Black Dog are now in their second or third incarnation – it has been hard to keep track of the changes – and yet their reshape of Skirt’s “Collider” is not entirely alien. Sure, there are muffled, breathless vocal samples and eerie ambience as their version starts, and the beats are off-centre, encircled by tight hats and clattering snares – all elements that fit the industrial, abstract narrative that has dominated techno for the past few years.
But at the heart of their remix is a warm, old school bassline that’s so familiar and comfortable that it makes the sharp angles and harsh edges melt into a blurry form, like wrapping a steel box in lambswool. Anyway, if you’re looking for iciness to suit the prevailing, austere winds, Skirt has it in spades. “Miismo” is a straight-forward proposition, as lo-fi drums underscore a building, droning riff and chilling strings, while “Beatless Collision” is, as its name suggests, a place where layers of understated but eerie sound converge. Bitten By the Black Dog goes to show that sometimes, the old and new can happily share the same ground.
1. Bitten By The Black Dog
3. Beatless Collision