Somnambule - Writing About Music

Recon ~ White Label

‘Clear’ is the sound of an jackhammer heard through a noisegate. The dust and rubble created by the jackhammer seem to become part of the rhythm. Or it could be a needle forever stuck in a dirty groove. Minimal changes to the emphasis of the rhythm and its sonic byproducts make up the drama of the track. ‘M15’ has an undulating rhythm that’s just a little reminiscent of a digeridoo in mid-flow. Brief delayed echos float off and around this rhythm like muffled scree skittering down a cliff face. ‘Circle’ introduces a few more elements including a lovely synthetic percussion track and a tripping – as in almost falling over – knotty lower end. The whole thing seems about to solidify immovably.

‘White Label’ appears to be a series of exercises in how to strip something down to the most basic parts possible yet still create engagement and retain interest. This is music influenced by the minimalist techno of Basic Channel. Most of the twelve pieces are between three and four and a half minutes long: it’s as though each track has the exact duration required to define its function. Any longer would be superfluous and might perhaps damage its mechanism.

‘Va/Lov+’ is uneasy and bent-backed. It refuses to resolve into anything approaching a groove and is pierced again and again by an uneasy, highly repetitive vocal sample. ‘Section’ hits you repeatedly with a marshal slap onto which a momentary sliver is riveted, perhaps the echo of a dub note (but this is dub taken prisoner and thrown into a hard labour camp). ‘Travel Analog’ is a clatter of things, cutlery, steel pipes, something softer. It fades slowly leaving the ghost of train tracks, hurried activity, some kind of exhaustion.

‘Ellipse’ is the sound of scars healing, white flesh ridges gradually succeeding blood and gore. It’s what you hear when you skate on grey, slushy snow. Travelling somewhere, maybe somewhere warmer, kinder, more welcoming? There might just be a ghost of hope in this track (or is that just hopeful projection?) ‘Motorhome’ increases the synthetic warmth, the incessant cold is still out there, the other side of the wall, but there’s respite of sorts in here.

‘White Label’ is remarkable for its gritty/grimy, stripped-down minimalism. It sounds like a series of timelapse shots suspended upon a variety of armatures. Is Recon the new industrialism, the sound of mechanised factories, of merciless reproduction, of ever-encroaching winters as the sun becomes a wan memory? Despite the foregoing description grimy doesn’t have to mean grim. In fact Recon’s music is detailed, marshal and mesmeric.
Colin Buttimer
April 2004
Published by the BBC