aec.mdlv105a.2 3/10/17 New

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    Wonderland Modern Love

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Review Text Following Demdike Stare's ambitious 2012 double CD, Elemental, which compiled four EPs along with bonus material, the British experimental electronic duo (consisting of Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker) began releasing a series of Testpressing 12" singles, offering their bleak, volatile takes on jungle, breakbeat hardcore, and grime. In addition, Whittaker and Andy Stott released an excellent full-length under their long-running Millie & Andrea side project, which similarly explored roughneck breakbeats and heavy bass. All of this plays into Demdike Stare's full-length Wonderland, which was surprise-released at the end of 2016 by the duo's longtime home, Modern Love. From the onset, it's clear that this album is significantly lighter than anything else the duo have released. Instead of building up lengthy, ominous drones laced with ritualistic percussion, here they generally get straight to the point and set up cracking beats and pulsating basslines. The tracks are still tense and heavy, but they don't quite overwhelm you with dread the way other DS releases do. Instead, these tracks focus on dancefloor grooves while still throwing in plenty of eerie voices and other strange sounds. More than anything, Demdike Stare sound like they're having an enormous amount of fun coming up with the most off-the-wall bangers they can summon from their machines. The album's most junglistic moments are all winners, especially the absurdly good "Sourcer," which plays around with slippery breakbeats and ragga vocal samples as if they were Silly Putty. "Airborne Latency" starts out minimal before gaining clanking, scraping beats, eventually leading into more atmospheric synths offset with harsh, smashy Amen breaks. Other tracks are hallucinatory trips through roughed-up dub techno (the ten-minute "Hardnoise"), dancehall ("FullEdge "), and U.K. garage ("Overstaying"). The entire album is as fascinating and inventive as the rest of the Demdike Stare catalog, and certainly less overbearing. [The CD issue of Wonderland includes two bonus discs that gather all 14 of the tracks from the Testpressing 12"s, making the release an essential purchase for fans who can't afford to keep up with all the limited vinyl releases.] ~ Paul Simpson

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Curzon - 5:22
  2. 2. Animal Style - 7:09
  3. 3. Hardnoise - 11:36
  4. 4. Blue - 1:58
  5. 5. FullEdge [eMpTy-40 Mix] - 5:29
  6. 6. Sourcer - 5:28
  7. 7. Airborne Latency - 7:03
  8. 8. Fridge Challenge - 3:29
  9. 9. Overstaying - 6:45

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