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Medici Daughter
s/t Will Salmon , January 18th, 2022 09:44

London's Medici Daughter may hark back to early 00s braindance but their debut boasts an unhinged intensity which can't help but surge forward, finds Will Salmon

Where were you in 2002? This debut EP from Medici Daughter (real identity unknown, biographical information unforthcoming) is an impressively dank and crepuscular set of mutant IDM that looks to the future while nodding back to the state of the genre at the turn of the century. The seven tracks here draw from many different strains of electronica. Lovely, crystalline synth melodies and drifting ambient passages brush up against bursts of noise, frenzied beats, and industrial sturm und drang. It could feel chaotic – and does at times – but there’s a distinctive sonic fingerprint, a sort of over-caffeinated clutter that serves to unify this mass of sound.

Opener ‘Flop’ is a wash of synth pads, the gurgle of corrupted MP3 artefacts and knackered technology whirring into life before drill ‘n’ bass beats slam in. It manages the impressive task of being both pretty and unhinged.

The industrial pop of ‘Breeder’ steps up the intensity with screams and the sounds of tearing metal, but it doesn’t feel aggressive. Instead, anchored to an ice cool guest spot from Danny L. Harle and SOPHIE collaborator Raffy (whose pitched up vocals gave ‘Vyzee’ a cheeky flex), its repeated call – “Dirty breeder, shut your mouth!” – is arch and amused.

‘PVL Toxin’ is more seductive, an elaborate breakcore workout held in check by softly sighed, all-but-indecipherable vocals. EP highlight ‘Lime’, meanwhile, marries a loping bass wobble to a staticky mass of skittering percussion and chopped samples somewhere between Venetian Snares and Ghettoville-era Actress. Try not to bounce along with it.

When I listen to Medici Daughter – at least its first half – I feel an intense pang of nostalgia for days spent lurking on the WATMM forum and hunting for rarities on Soulseek. Soundmurderer, Squarepusher, and the Planet Mu lot all feel like reference points here and there’s a certain dustiness to the production, with some of the tracks feeling like they’ve been stitched together from files retrieved from an ancient Seagate hard drive.

But it’s not simply a throwback. This is unpredictable, exciting music and with its final three tracks, the record charts a new course. ‘Angel Fire (1996)’ adds pitched-up vocals (again, indistinct, just another instrument) to a lush downtempo groove. ‘Medicidata’ is the record’s most intense moment: an ever-shifting barrage of machine music that echoes some of Loraine James’ more unhinged work. And speaking of James, final track ‘Plugged’ brings in one of her key collaborators, vocalist Le3 bLACK.

It’s a slippery thing; an unsettling, vaporous piece that envelops both bLACK and the listener into a nocturnal London fog. It’s unlike anything else here and suggests that, whoever Medici Daughter is, this fascinatingly strange, album-length introduction is only scratching the surface of what they can do.