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White Noise: Divvorce – Used Experience

Friday, 12 April 2013

Divvorce – Used Experience

Label: Fifth Wall

The second release for Brooklyn’s newly minted Fifth Wall comes courtesy of co-owner Divvorce, who offers a tantalisingly tough selection of techno rollers shot through with other generic tropes, particularly drawing influence from house. The combination of rattling warehouse techno and some of the house and bass world’s more accessible traits makes for a surprisingly impressive package, signalling another quality release for the nascent label.

Opener E1 is an oppressive introduction Divvorce's sound, channelling Berlin’s signature sound with big compressed kicks, metallic snares and undulating ambient synthwork that fills in the dead space. It’s certainly a functional slice of techno, but the Shed-lite approach proves an uncharacteristically straight-edged foreword for an EP that’s full of surprises. Indeed, it’s on E2 where Divvorce starts going somewhere interesting. He teams up with Fifth Wall co-owner Hound Scales for a nocturnal workout that sits between techno and house without ever sounding remotely like ‘tech-house’. Here the same rugged percussion and ambient accents set the stage for a series of housey bass stabs and an indecipherable looped vocal that draws parallels to the UK bass scene. Ripped from its bassy environs, the sugar-sweet vocal sounds threatening and unfamiliar, so that by the track’s second half, when the bassline starts wandering and the vocal is timestretched off into the abyss, you feel like you’re listening to something thrilling, and genuinely new.

E1 / E2 (feat. Hound Scales) / E3 / E4 / E2 (Grenier Reformat) / E3 (MRSK Remix)

Divvorce continues to impress on the B-side, where a Chicago house drum pattern is subjected to that same misty synthwork and some clean, jackin’ synthwork. Just when you think you’ve got it pegged, the final two minutes introduce an alarm-bell synthline that’s all rave, once more expertly re-appropriated into Divvorce’s shadowy soundscape. The final original cut, E4,  treads darker ground, all pummeling bass notes and a threatening wobble that underpin shimmering synthwork that cuts through the darkness.

The final two cuts hand over the reins to a pair of reliable remixers. Grenier brings E2 to boiling point, offering a tough technoid rework that incorporates an array of dramatic atmospherics and a more straightforward build-and-release structure. Meanwhile MRSK turns E3 into a menacing stepper, all metallic percussive loops and rebounding acid lines. They’re both effective remixes, but ultimately lack the uniquely unsettling atmosphere that made the original cuts feel so fresh. Used Experience is a real triumph for Divvorce and the Fifth Wave imprint, showcasing a supple grasp over generic tropes that surprises and entices the listener without ever losing the sense of Divvorce’s distinctive voice.


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