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Void Hands
Split Shapes & Divisive Models Nick Roseblade , December 14th, 2019 12:07

Nick Roseblade struggles with the new Void Hands album – but when he gets into it, he really gets into it

After a first listen to Spilt Shapes & Divisive Models, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. It is a hard listen and a sense of annoyance swelled in me, as I found it hard it latch on to anything. But I tried again and I found a few hand holds. After a few more listens, ad-hoc harmonies began to appear. With a little perseverance, glorious patterns started to emerge and everything slowly started to slot into place.

Opening tracks ‘Not Grooved’ and ‘Crust’ demonstrate the point. ‘Not Grooved’ opens with a marching loop before a bassline kicks in and we have a minimal techno beast on our hands. Void Hands then subtly alter the sounds to create intricate patterns and motifs that appear and reappear throughout. Sometimes their reappearance is fleeting, others it’s the main body. But ultimately this is an exercise in less is more. The less they alter things the more the sound swells.

‘Crust’ takes these ideas and plays around with the form more to create something far more immediate than ‘Not Grooved’ hinted at. At 8:33 it is the longest track on the album and give the duo room to elongate the sounds, but never at the expense of the song.

The standout track is ‘Hedonist Reserve’. Here, Void Hands start off with a precise loop before the addition of deep bass fractures the sound to something that wouldn’t be out of place on Hyperdub. It just sounds gritty. The kind of grit you can’t seem to get off no matter how hard you try.

What Spilt Shapes & Divisive Models does incredibly well is create movement from static loops. Independently the loops are consistent with little variation, but after being layered the combinations start to give off incredibly catchy rhythmic patterns. These patterns then start to resemble glitchy techno. Sometimes they have a sombre low tempo and other times they are ratcheted to a blistering pace, sounding like they are collapsing in on themselves. But what they all possess is the fidgety ability to not only get under your skin, but lodged into your mind.

This is an album that you can easily get locked and lost in. If you give it time, it can be one of the most rewarding albums to come out in recent years.

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