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Assertion Of A Surrounding Presence DeForrest Brown Jr. , August 3rd, 2015 13:27

The future is a universal known-unknown. Through speculation though, we are able to reach beyond our present, and pull out the vague strictures that lie ahead and render them graphically for further inspection. Kuedo, co-head of his newly minted label Knives along with Joe Shakespeare of Motto Books, seems to be completely aware of this idea of constructive, gestural futures. His latest effort – his first since the immense Severant – is a series of instances that gesture at the beauty of creation, in spite of relative smallness.

The record's title, Assertion Of A Surrounding Presence, emits a sense of eco-philosophical origins. It feels more gestational than revelatory, having the pointed edge of a thesis statement for the label's aesthetic as a whole. To quote the press release, Kuedo intends to parse the "anterior [of] modern dance music and electronica, largely by virtue of unbending futurist focus and 
careful attention to detail."

For Kuedo, the idea of genre is seen as a purely speculative practice: a mean to an end. In this way, the array of features on the record - ranging from former Vex'd partner Roly Porter, to Egyptrixx and label affiliate Mind:Body:Fitness - speaks to a sort of proverbial pow wow. The concern here seems to be more on shape, the look of things as opposed to the actual construction of the pieces themselves. Which is quite similar to the Anthony Burgess inspired album cover by artist Joshua Petherwick, who's work aims to be "a cryptic systemisation of order in a dystopian environment."

The stressed order here of a distinctly dystopian view (versus its opposite) is again a signaling of intention for Kuedo and his collaborators. The sounds, the ideal concepts and ideas that are synthesised into music are in fact viscerally, if not jarringly, chaotic and out of reach. Many of the tracks here seems to grapple with that inevitability of control and charting the unknown-unknown that is possible future.

Opening track 'Vertical Stack', which situates itself between Oneohtrix Point Never's post-Replica Commissions work and Lorenzo Senni's 'Advance Abstract Trance'. There is an ecology building from a vapour of pads, a rise of form determined though opaque space – Kuedo begins his record with an acute sigh and a dive. Later on, Egyptrixx features on 'Boundary Regulation', bringing his circular and industrious logic into the fold, seeming to want to twist and unwind truth from a centralised core. Surgeon-esque hypnotic techno here is an act of investigating the producer - through a distanced gaze the audience's - uneven footing on the forced sprint towards the future.

The soaring choruses of the previous record though present on this EP are kept to the back. Like a smokescreen, synth passages swath over thick bass and running snare grooves. A lot of the hypermeter of Severant is smothered here, giving itself over to velocity. Kuedo anxiously sticks our hands in the filth of experience, hoping to synthesise a grander moment than ourselves. Creation as banal as it is, is the ends of a virtual aim, a large hand shovelling up pathetic subparticles for a generative means. Kuedo dips a toe into the future, dares to bring back a drop. We as listeners must engage in the lab work with him.

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