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White Noise: Pearson Sound – REM

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Pearson Sound – REM

Label: Pearson Sound

While he was once regularly touted as the UK’s best, most forward-thinking producer, Hessle co-owner David Kennedy, aka Pearson Sound, has been fairly quiet of late. Kennedy has always had a taste for pushing sonic boundaries, whether as Pearson Sound or under his previous moniker Ramadanman, his few releases in 2012 were more experimental than ever. While sometimes this gave thrilling results, such as his surprising Joy O / Boddika collaboration Faint or the superb Untitled (both of which charted highly in our 2012 Roundup), his more substantial Clutch EP sacrificed all semblance of a groove in favour of stripped percussive minimalism, resulting in a rather demanding and difficult listen. For his first solo release of 2013 Kennedy continues to follow no-one’s path but his own, yet the result is rather more forgettable than one might like to admit.

The title track is a spare, chaotic configuration of seething synths and twitching percussion accompanied by echoing bass notes, and as with all of Kennedy’s work, it’s immaculately designed. Yet the overall listening experience proves somewhat ephemeral: there is nothing to grab onto here, and it’s hard to imagine how one might dance to this material without a heavy dose of dissociatives. Next Gridlock proves similarly slippery, a simple arrangement of increasingly syncopated drum layers and tunnelling sub-bass hits which gets busier but never feels like it truly progresses.

REM’s B-side is more rewarding, but still falls short of the quality of Kennedy’s previous output. The brief, beatless Figment proves the release’s one true joy; a nakedly beautiful combination of crystalline synths moving like liquid across a field of spare melodic details and a wordless choral accompaniment deep in the mix. Finally Crimson (Beat Ritual Mix) looks back to Kennedy’s musical past, with filtered snares and sudden melodic snatches breaking up a tinned hardcore rhythm. It’s not that Kennedy needs to put out a ‘big’ tune with every release (Quivver on the recent Nonplus Compilation shows that he still can), but the stark minimalism of his recent output often results in music that feels more sketch than fully-formed track. He will surely continue to follow his own sound regardless, but let’s hope that future sonic explorations proffer more substantial results.


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