TOUCHING THE VOID
ALBUM HYMEN RELEASE: JUNE, 2002
REVIEW: JULY 19, 2002
must admit I always liked the undanceable “post-rave experimental”
electronica, much reviled by hardcore tech-heads and dance music journalist
Simon Reynolds. This terrible elitist music for art students who don’t
have the balls to do a lot of E’s and dance all night used to keep
me very happy. I liked the weirdness and the obsessive qualities of Photek
cutting up his beats with surgical precision, The Future Sound of London
sampling twisted urban nightmares and Squarepusher warping drum’n’bass
into utter strangeness.
Sadly many of the artists inhabiting these fringes - even Photek - took
Reynolds point, that electronic
music equals dance music, and turned to house and soul, quickly evaporating
into the blandness of some vocal driven dance music.
I shouldn’t complain though. There is plenty of challenging electronica
beneath the surface. Hymen is an affiliated label of Ant-Zen, one of the
most interesting sources of sound in later years. Their trademarks are
great artwork and packaging as well as music that is often as disturbing
as it is beautiful.
Somatic Responses is no exception. Brothers John and Paul Healy explore
the abandoned ground of multi layered, industrial drum’n’bass
on this, their third full length album on Hymen. Complexity and variation
mark their work, structured around energetic and noisy beats. It sounds
harsh at times, but never brutal. The warmth of subtly used ambient sounds
softens the mix, making it enjoyable all way through more than seventy
minutes of quality electronica. It is hard to point out specific tracks
out of "Touching the Void" because of the seamless, smooth experience
of hearing the whole album.