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Post Scriptum
Post Scriptum 01 Albert Freeman , June 26th, 2015 12:41

The reboot of Function's Infrastructure New York in 2014 brought with it the interesting twist of turning what was once mostly an outlet for his own material into full-fledged label, complete with independently-minded artist signings. Perhaps Dave Sumner simply has a glut of available music for his imprint, but given his many famous friends, it's striking that he chose to debut mainly unknowns in the year since Infrastructure resumed operations, even if the music has fallen stylistically in line with what is expected. Aside from the nearly-obligatory reissues, Cassegrain & Tin Man has been the only release verging on predictable, with a single from the obscure Mariano DC and a pair of EPs, including his debut, from Campbell Irvine indicating quite a strong stance towards pushing newer names. This tendency reaches is furthest expression yet with an album-length debut from the anonymous Post Scriptum, previously only known from a pair of tracks included in Sumner's recent Berghain 07 mix.

Although the anonymous techno surge of recent years has somewhat tapered off, both the music here and the anonymity fetish will be familiar to any close followers of Sumner, himself one of the most guilty in this regard with a discography that will likely never be straightened out. Function's sound is in a large part unchanged since the 90s; it formed a major component of the Sandwell District label and continues to influence contemporary techno profoundly. Post Scriptum falls entirely in line with this idea, almost to a fault, but, similar to Sumner's own richly detailed work, there's enough substance here to make an album's worth of techno that is both strictly functional and interesting enough for headphones or the living room. With all of the noise coming from the other factions of the Sandwell split, it seems that Sumner is finally pursuing a direction for his label with confidence and releasing music that stands up to the quality test of his own. It's deep, purisitic, and will mostly please listeners already on board with Function, but there's no denying the album reaches far past the quality curve established in recent years for this sound.

From the first track here, Post Scriptum lays down the palette that will serve for the rest of the LP. Compared to other modern techno, there's more of a focus on basslines here, and tempos are consistently intermediate in the 125-130BPM area that emphasises space and sound design in the arrangements over pure pummeling. With its reliance on warped, alien sound design, garbled vocal samples, and science fiction soundscapes, there's a lot of reference points in both contemporary and historical techno, but the producer immediately stands out for being stranger and druggier than most and for his needling attention to sonic detail. A track like 'The Extreme Distance', a nearly classicist, Vainio-influenced rolling bleep techno piece, remains remarkable for the damaged synthesiser lines bouncing around its centre and occupying much of the negative space this specific style of techno often leaves empty to emphasise rhythmic drive. To compensate, Post Scriptum instead intensifies the drum machines to push through all the extra layers of sound, a tactic familiar from the heavy 909 patterns of Sumner's own work and applied similarly here.

'Gliese 581', with the title referencing a well-studied extrasolar star system (and its cosmic ambience inviting comparisons to similarly-themed recent material from Jeff Mills), is another instance where the producer navigates well-covered territory with unusual acuity. There's not really a single completely unique element in the arrangement – a massive, distorted kick, heavily swung hats, more altered vocals, and teetering, rotating synthesiser lines, with a similarly revolving bassline that could be mistaken for toms at times – but his compositional strategy is strong and the sounds blend until their boundaries are sometimes vague. The pacier section that starts with 'Decelerate At The Destination' and continues into two subsequent, similarly structured tracks, 'Proton To Proton Fusion' and 'Constant Acceleration Drive', most closely approaches the drugged-out, heads-down attitude of Function's own material, but the clear source of inspiration is counterbalanced in the unusual artfulness of the arrangements and compositions.

The album closes with another trio of tracks that suddenly torque the tempo down while leaving other approaches mostly unchanged. This decision induces a feeling of vertigo in music as spatially-oriented as this, with open spaces abruptly appearing between the drum hits where the bizarre tendrils of synthesiser unravel themselves more freely than before. It's possible to hear hints of a classic, stab-driven Detroit rave sound at the end of 'Mistaken Conclusion', but as the title implies it's a feint kept in the background more as a tease. Closer 'Warped Space Time' is the slowest piece on the record, a narcotic sub-110BPM stare into the empty cosmos whose orchestral ending, appearing gradually out of the background radiation, brings the album to a surprisingly emotional conclusion.

While at no point reinventing the wheel, Post Scriptum is distinguished for his deeply wrought take on a sound pioneered by Sumner himself, but here executed with unusual discipline by a studious disciple. Like the astronomy referenced in the track titles or the radiation-damaged photo that adorns its cover, there's a wealth of small, engrossing detail here, and it makes a compelling case for the idea that Function's own sound, easily a decade ahead of its time when he emerged, is only now reaching its greatest influence.