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Manni Dee
A Low Level Love Noel Gardner , June 21st, 2021 08:22

Joined by the voice of Chris Liberator, techno stalwart Manni Dee continues to bang with considerable vim and vigour, finds Noel Gardner

Not to suggest that UK techno stormbringer Manni Dee is some kind of turncoat, but after about a decade in the game, to date his best known moment is probably a 2017 track titled ‘London Isn’t England’. Featuring the gravely treated vocals of Polish avant-raver Ewa Justka (the duo did a ridiculously hard live set at the Unsound festival a few years back, happily captured for posterity), its title expressed a sentiment anyone sensible can get behind. Now A Low Level Love, the second album by the man formally titled Manveer Dheensa, announces itself with ‘London In My System’, a driving paean to the charms of England’s prime metropolis. Please, some of us are easily confused!

The context of ‘LIMS’ is provided by its guest vocalist: Chris Liberator, bossman of the UK acid techno scene since the early 90s and proudly wideboy as he tells us how he loves Chicago, he loves Detroit, but most of all he loves London. No cause to dispute his testimony. That buoyant squiggle twenty-four seconds in offers an extra tribute to the relentless, squat-rocking sound Chris and co coined; all told, this sounds more like a Perc Trax release (which it is) than a Stay Up Forever one, but in soldering the chain links between the two it does valuable work.

A Low Level Love, while by no means without its subtleties, goes full tilt on most of its eleven tracks and was clearly made for grotty basements with lights turned down low as legally permissible, or lower. What do you predict something called ‘You Puked In The Alley Where We Kissed’ sounds like? Maybe the most rambunctious moment on the album, it has a BPM akin to European schranz techno and intermittent outbursts of distortion like a gargoyle’s unhappy digestive system. So you predicted right. In more linear moments, Dheensa seems to be telegraphing his trance fandom: the brief ‘Yesterday’s Hope’, clean, drumless laser show-worthy ‘No More Heroes’ and the audacious ‘Pivotal Summer’, its riff straight outta hard trance’s early 00s pomp. Unsure if this corner of the genre has had a cred revival yet, but if Manni Dee can hasten it, well, godspeed.

His productions are invariably filthily direct but rarely lowest common denominator. ‘Persist And Change’ is ruthless, kickdrum-happy peaktime techno with just enough strangeness sewn in to transcend suggestions of the businesslike, and features distracted, slightly gaseous crooning from guest vocalist Sylph, who as Tom Cohen you may recall from late 00s artschlockers S.C.U.M. (or, alternatively, as Peaches Geldof’s husband). The central melody of ‘Take Time’ comes through with a foghorn’s clarity, but there’s a dessicated, haunted feel to Dheensa’s treatment of it. And on ‘Closer’, a clever double-bluff title for the last track on the album, unnervingly brisk beats overlay a smudged, gauzy melody. A Low Level Love plays out like an artist album (annoying term alert) but persistently bangs on individual terms. Sound of the summer! Maybe even this one.