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Heathered Pearls
Body Complex Joseph Burnett , July 15th, 2015 11:24

Body Complex at first seems like an odd title for an album that feels very divorced from the inner environment of the human body. Of course, the term "body" can mean a number of things, and what is most exciting about Jakub Alexander's latest offering as Heathered Pearls is the way it uses electronic music, especially techno, to weave in and out of the nuances of humankind's physical interactions with the world around it. From the unidentifiable and minimalist object on the cover to the track titles referencing interior design and architecture, via the very makeup of each track, Body Complex feels like a journey through a space both public and internalised.

Moving away from pure ambient music into the realms of techno was key in this regard, and in keeping with the artwork, Alexander carves smooth rounded edges around harsher outlines, his loops and drum patterns imbued with much of the minimalist sensuality of artists like The Field and Porter Ricks. Alexander's synths are warm and hazy, spreading out like ripples on a pool, but from the first bars of 'Sunken Living Area', this warmth is offset against the rhythmic drive he deploys, with repetitive snares and metronomic kick drums. Again, the architectural structure of these tracks is apparent, the minimal drums and bass forming a stiff skeleton for the synths' more esoteric layers of texture, like the girders holding up a Norman Foster-designed high rise building. 'Interior Architecture Software' may just be the driest track title you'll get this year, but behind its technological implications, it's a swinging dub techno gem, all motorik percussion and chime-like synth lines, harking back to the nineties style of Fluxion or even Giong Lim's soundtrack to Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Millenium Mambo, a comparison that pops up again on the hypnotic 'Warm Air Estate', which is dominated by mournful female vocals and a general aura of late-night melancholia.

Like a lot of electronic music, Body Complex is inseparable from the modern urban environment, which makes sense seeing as most electronic style grew out of clubs and inner cities. Body Complex often feels like a travelogue, a psycho-journey through imagined streets and along deserted freeways, notably on the Shigeto-co-produced 'Abandoned Mall Utopia' (speaks for itself, really) and its follow-up, 'Perfume Catalogue'. Alexander's music is almost a reverse of the obsessions of JG Ballard, evincing calming beauty in abandoned urban spaces, hyper-modern skyscrapers and concrete overpasses, recalling the idealism that once fuelled the way cities were dreamed up and planned (The Barbican should consider playing this album over their PAs in the main hall). If this approach appears at first to negate the negative impacts of consumerism and alienation in the urban setting, it also hints at the need to rethink the very spaces we inhabit, and possible new avenues to look down. Sci-fi techno, if you will.

But maybe that's all a bit too much interpretation to lay on the shoulders of a techno producer, and I should focus instead on just how catchy and compulsive most of the tracks on Body Complex are. 'Sunken Living Area', 'Interior Architecture Software', 'Personal Kiosk' (with Ghostly International veteran The Sight Below) and 'Warm Air Estate' are absolute bangers, infectious in ways only the best techno can be, and perfect club material, for those nights when bodies come together most joyously in a celebration of technology and each other.

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