, July 11th, 2012 11:32
Emotionally resonant and melodically involving techno has had a sterling innings this year: first, there was Donato Dozzy and Neel with Voices From The Lake - a submerged and humid evocation of swampy exotica; Claro Intelecto's Reform Club, meanwhile, was a career high, all epic pads and driving rain; then Actress' RIP was, well, Actress. And now Darling Farah comes out with Body, a compelling debut filled with rough hewn, travel weary grooves and a musical gravitas that belie his 20 years. Detroit born, United Arab Emirates raised, Farah now resides in London where he reportedly recorded this LP in three months. And while it does not quite reach the heights the aforementioned three, it remains a rounded - and often thrillingly vulnerable - listen.
Techno, though, is a music not readily associated with vulnerability. Indeed, the twin tropes of endurance and decadence have played an increasingly noticeable part in its genesis these past five years. Not necessarily in the harder/faster musical aesthetic – that peaked around the turn of the millennium (indeed, this writer remembers the days when you were just as likely to see the pummelling borderline gabba of man mountain DJ Rush on a UK techno flyer as Dave Clarke, but we digress…) – no, more in the sense of full 'lifestyle' immersion. The Berghain effect has meant longer parties, longer weekends, hype and - sadly – yet more soul-bereft Ostgut-lite boomathons.
Records such as Body are needed, then: both to act as subterfuge to the leaden excesses of the preset brigade, and also to remind us that personality and human fallibility hold every bit as large a stake in the game as chiselled functionality. It kicks off with 'North'. Far away ticks, bleak pads and muted kicks agitate, while sinister pads move like an unknown shadow behind a bedroom door – a disquieting intro. 'Realised' begins the LP proper with an incessant three note bass and, again, a palpable sense of hot menace. It's in the hats, see: they rise, fall, rise again, all the while creating a gossamer light buffer on what is in actuality a very weighty track. At the risk of coming over a wee bit Tufnell, it really is the sustain on those hats…
'Fortune' is a dub techno piece, albeit a very drunken interpretation. Chopped, skewed, moved asunder, the component parts sound like misappropriated sound waves from a Rhythm and Sound 12” being used to help pump up a house sized balloon of nos – all fibrous pulse and woozy warp. 'Forget it' is similarly narcotic. Contact mic percussion - the kick sounds like a basketball wrapped in soggy newspaper – and roughly distorted pads are the sonic markers in a morose trip.
Not all is submerged and cracked, however. Darling Farah also cuts a neat line in straight up techno. Body is an exercise in hypnotic movement: sexy, jacking, peak time music. A late highlight comes in the form of 'Bruised' - a track that leads one to suspect Farah may hold a flame for old jungle records. An ambient pad that sounds rather like the start of Konflict's legendary Renegade Hardware anthem 'Messiah' and then an oily Reece stab… 'This is it!' intones a female voice - it certainly is. Three minutes of abandoned power station acoustics; 'Wormhole' in the midst of a particularly nasty K hole, perhaps.
There is but one small dip - 'Fortune Part 2' sounds like Mark Henning covering Basic Channel. But still, give me that over the usual 'watch out here comes the soundscape' tomfoolery so often found moonlighting on the later stages of techno LPs. To come up with a debut album as fully realised as this aged 20 is very exciting indeed – and Body ably adds both body and soul to the small but perfectly formed 2012 vintage.