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Cetology Tristan Bath , February 17th, 2015 15:30

Lights up, and the buzzing of amped up phaser effects leaping from left to right instantly sweeps you away, like a puny daffodil in the path of a tornado. These sounds are emanating straight from the deepest recesses of the cosmos, eternal and ephemeral all at once, massaging common everyday reality from your brain with an all-encompassing torrent of noisy synthetic absurdism.

Cutting straight to the pulsating undercurrent and randomly fluttering foreground tones of opener 'Folio' is like skipping straight to the centre of some shimmering sidelong mid-70s solo transmission from fluxus composer Takehisa Kosugi, or Timewind-era Klaus Schulze, and littering the ground beneath with dozens of overlapping kick patterns lifted from Detroit and Chicago. Wash after wash of crashing electronic nonsense collides on all sides, robotically imitating some semblance of rhythm and melody, as if some MIDI trigger was left arpeggiating ad infinitum just at the moment the human race was wiped out - and thereafter it began to evolve.

To date, Michael Hann has amassed a collection of properly singular releases to his name. As the boss of North East England's Reject & Fade label, he put out the stellar debut full-length from Berlin's rkss - a set of submersible grey industrial techno sketches to rival Actress' finest. Under the name Rejections, Hann himself authored several stellar releases, most notably two murkily brilliant cassette tapes in 2013 comprising gaping cityscape drones that sit directly between grating and meditative.

His Marreck persona however, is a far more vicious beast, not so much sending you to dreamland as knocking you the hell out. It's loud, it's heavy and it's undoubtedly trance music. Not vodka-in-the-eye, throwing-some-sick-shapes, 90s trance mind you. More, filthy dirty, trapped-inside-a-whirligig, slicing-up-eyeballs trance music. Marreck's machinations can so readily send the fully-engaged listener careening through the stratosphere in an almost clinically induced trance, it makes you wonder why the classic 70s synth-epics namechecked above didn't more frequently cut right to the chase as Marreck does here (his longest track is admittedly nearly a dozen minutes long, but that's paltry for the genre). With both of his Marreck cassette tapes released in 2014 delivering four 8-11 minute pieces apiece - Mechanism out on Gnod's essential Tesla Tapes label, and Thirteen Losses put out via Bomb Shop (and chosen as one of this writer's best tapes of 2014) - Cetology's offering of eight 5-6 minute compositions, released on truly legitimate CD nonetheless, instantly comes across as being for all intents and purposes Marreck's first fully-realised album. He's studied his modus operandi, now it's time to really make something of it.

Cetology refers to the scientific study of large marine mammals of the order Cetacea (known to you and me as whales, dolphins and porpoises), and in this case more specifically Marreck is focusing on Herman Melville's own apocryphal cetology from within the pages of Moby Dick. The track titles for 'Folio', 'Duedecimo' and 'Octavo' refer to Melville's words for large, medium and small sized cetacea respectively, but to what Marreck is referring seems open to interpretation. Talking to him about the new album, he made it clear that unlike his Rejections material, "which is more of a dialogue between the music making and exploring concepts, ideas etc.", Marreck aims almost solely to use techno in its broadest sense "as a vehicle for creating rhythmically focused, psychedelic music". What's more he described reading Moby Dick as "a fxxking slog". However much trying to assign meaning is perhaps moot, one can't help but hear some operatic subaqautic epic behind the music, populated by whale-sized heartbeat drums and towering whalesong synth pads.

Aesthetically, the entire album falls somewhere between Pete Swanson's pounding punk noise assault, the hypnotic arpeggiated beds of the 70s synth-epic genre, and the most repetitive and mesmeric strain of Detroit producers, such as Drexciya, or Terrence Dixon. The biggest shift in Marreck's sound is the strengthening sense of melody behind the sea of pounding noise and monolithic near-rhythms. It softens the grating malevolent edge heard on the man's last two cassettes, which in turn strengthens this music's uncanny ability to draw you inescapably further and further in. Of course, we're not quite talking about verses and choruses just yet, but 'Folio' unquestioningly whispers a theme in your ear throughout, and the second half of 'Melusina' is an outright grand set of hair-raising dusty synth arpeggios, and the bizarre empty space in between throbbing beats and whistling droplets of synth on 'Cuvier' winds up one of the most overtly musical passages on the release. This release also sees Marreck making very heavy use of Korg's beats-and-bass groove designing synth, the Electribe (dating back to 1999), which leads the way on almost every composition, grouping all eight of Cetology tracks together nicely, and adding an all important analogue warmth to the proceedings, making sure the chaos isn't too organised.

On Cetology, Marreck really does assimilate the various tropes of psychedelic electronics, and produce something truly original, and psychedelic in the most potent possible reading of the word. There's no accurate term for what this music is yet either. To describe it as being experimental or techno or noise would seem too reductive, and furthermore take far too little notice of the music's dense sense of colour. Whatever it is, it's a blinding achievement to render your listener a drooling drooling wreck throughout fifty minutes of aggressively trippy, speaker-bursting noise, and have them come out the other end raring for more. Where Marreck's going with this music isn't on any map; but then again true places never are.