Various Artists – The Black Ideal
Released to coincide with the first issue of Monograph, a new Parisian journal about electronic music, it is clear that The Black Ideal seeks to and succeeds in tapping into a loosely defined but nonetheless cohesive techno narrative. This is not music for sun-kissed beaches and soft-drink sponsored parties, rather it is a collection of tracks that delves into the darker side of contemporary techno music.
It would be easy – not to mention lazy – to dismiss this as neo-industrial gloom, the product of furrow-browed, sincere young men. Yet there is a sensibility, a common thread that runs throughout each track on The Black Ideal, a sense of cohesion irrespective of the sonic approach. The noisy tapestry of sound and tone that Ancient Methods conjure up on “Guardians of an Eternal Bliss” and the acid-tinged drones of Shifted’s “Untitled” might occupy opposite ends of the tempo spectrum to the crunchy broken beats of Violetshaped’s “Black Wisdom White Witch” or AnD’s “Reinforcement G” – a track so brutal that the distorted kicks almost drown out the white noise mid-range – but they belong next to each as part of the overall narrative of the compilation.
It’s an aesthetic that champions the abstract and textured, but also the brutal and relentless. These latter qualities are most apparent on the AnD and Violetshaped tracks, but The Black Ideal also provides space for others to articulate these qualities in a more understated manner. Svreca was clearly inspired by Terrence Dixon’s sonic pointillism when he created “Linear”, a spaced out techno groove that hangs on the kind of microscopic, pinprick beats that both volumes of From the Far Future propagate.
The Semantica boss is not alone either; the menacingly-named Casual Violence deliver “Beauty Mode”, an arrangement based on slight, pitter-patter rhythms and beautiful but somewhat eerie pitch-bent synth lines, while Saåad and Mondkopf’s “Last Love” starts off as a textured soundscape that gradually reveals scattered vocal samples and kicks that appear in a flash, as if by magic. Slow or frenetic, noisy or calm, it’s all part of the same ideal.
A1. Ancient Methods – Guardians of an Eternal Bliss
A2. Saåad with Mondkopf – Last Love
B1. Polar Inertia – Antimatter
B2. Shifted – Untitled
C1. Casual Violence – Beauty Mode
C2. AnD – Reinforcement G
D1. Svreca – Linear
D2. Violetshaped – Black Wisdom, White Witch