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Rian Treanor
Ataxia Noel Gardner , March 20th, 2019 15:40

Rian Treanor's album ATAXIA may be conceptually rich but this remains a record built for bone-hard club systems and flailing limbs, finds Noel Gardner

It shouldn’t be any great revelation that rhythmically dense, sonically challenging electronic music made by people capable of lucidly articulating theory – what we talk about when we talk about Rian Treanor and his debut album ATAXIA – can also be fun as all hell. Notwithstanding several decades of synth/computer-based composition backing this up, though, there’s been a deeply satisfying run of stuff in this conceptual niche over the last few years: producers who might, given a semi-interested listen, sound dry, priggish and unsuited to the rave. But as surely as you can bug out to Nkisi or Lorenzo Senni or Aïsha Devi, the nine tracks on this album are built for bone-hard club systems and flailing limbs.

In this respect, ATAXIA is not hugely frontloaded, opening with ‘ATAXIA A1’ (all tracks are titled according to their position on the four sides of vinyl, even on digital formats) – sparse, spindly beats which sound like Indian handdrums and a voiceover which talks of sex and piss and boredom and resembles some perverted language learning tape but is actually dialogue from Bruce Nauman’s video installation Good Boy Bad Boy. Hereafter, Treanor embraces bass and breaks, often with greater gusto than his first three 12-inches might have led one to expect. He is a greatly skilled programmer who walks that thinnest of lines – music that confounds obvious ideas of what dance music can be, while still being possible to actually dance to – with nous comparable to Aphex or Squarepusher, or fringe footworkers such as Jlin and DJ Paypal.

The quickfire cutup bizniz of ‘ATAXIA B1’ is like a sinister corruption of Todd Edwards and the UK garage he influenced; ‘ATAXIA C2’ has enough spasmodic stutter and Whack-a-Mole elusiveness to out-Errorsmith Errorsmith. And his residency in Uganda last year at the invitation of the great Nyege Nyege collective might have a bearing on my feeling that the calmly frantic steel-pan hi-hat clatterfest ‘ATAXIA D2’ sounds like something that could have sprung from their label. But really, you just need to know that it truly cooks.

The one track on ATAXIA to have been previously released, ‘ATAXIA B2’, appeared as ‘Good News’ on Treanor’s semi-official 2018 EP Ravedit, and lends the album a one-off earworm factor amidst its other qualities. “Good news for you!” croons Naheed Ahktar, in sampled form, before being chopped into a thousand pieces and scattered about a soundfield of thumping algebraic snare hits. If you encounter this in a club and can pontificate, or even stay still, then you’re made of sterner stuff than I.