The Sound of Sheffield 1&2, The Black Dog
Thu 22 May 14
The Sound of Sheffield, Vols. 1 & 2 by The Black Dog
What could I write about the Black Dog that hasn’t already been written? At 25 years into their career, Ken Downie and friends are still pumping out high-quality output and flying the banner of UK techno like nobody else in the business. While some artists might be content to coast on their legacy at this age, the Black Dog is still changing with the times.
The Dog’s new four-part EP series, The Sound of Sheffield, is not so much a bold leap forward as it is a reflection on the current state of club culture through the lens of the group’s experience. Every track on the first two volumes is thoroughly contemporary in style and sound, while resting on timeless foundations of electronic music that are proven to shake bodies. This isn’t the cutting edge or the avant-garde, but it is sleek, functional techno executed with the utmost class and precision.
To my ear, the choice cuts on Volumes 1 & 2 are the sexy house-leaning tracks like “Ism”, “Too Many Isms”, and “Feral Electronics”. The stabbing chords in “Ism” and “Too Many Isms” strobe above deep bass kicks, while the rolling bass line in “Feral Electronics” pairs nicely with a floating string pad and big 909 hi-hats. These tracks balance slick production values with a satisfying old-school groove.
On the other hand, “Dropforge Learning” and “Bardwell’s Disaster” represent a grittier, darker side of the Black Dog. “Dropforge” has an industrial bite, with overdriven toms, searing white noise, and metallic hi hats. “Bardwell’s” is a Black Dog take on the Berghain sound, pairing deep, dry, booming kicks with a searing, noisy hi hat. Out of nowhere, an echoing synth line enters the mix for an energetic and satisfying build-drop combo in the second half of the track. Considering the sonic palette, it’s not surprising that “Bardwell’s” comes with an alternate version recorded live at the Panorama Bar.
All of these tracks will be favorites with DJs. The EPs are versatile and diverse enough to fit most contemporary styles, but they maintain a recognizable style throughout. Expect to hear one or two of these cuts at your local club!
The Sound of Sheffield Vol. 2 will be released on May 26th, with two more installments to follow.
Review for CGNY by Alex Markey
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