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White Noise: A Made Up Sound - After Hours / What Preset

Friday, 25 October 2013

A Made Up Sound - After Hours / What Preset

Label: A Made Up Sound

In a landscape populated by quick ascents to fame and even quicker declines, the consistently innovative producer is a rare beast indeed. Dutch artist Dave Huismans has always been a producer worthy of special interest, from his early skewed dubstep to more recent tricky techno concoctions, yet his work has become impressively characterised as much for relentlessly breaking the mould as for its persistently top-notch quality. Recent releases such as the mind-boggling (-ly brilliant) Ahead / Endgame and the desolate ritualism of Air Jordan (under his 2562 alias) have brought Huismans close to genius-level production, and so each release on his eponymous imprint comes as something of an event.

That Huisman’s latest should come as a curveball will surprise no one, but after a series of increasingly terse, hare-brained electronic excursions, After Hours / What Preset at first glance veers closer to techno convention. Two lengthy semi-live jams occupy either side of the record, meandering structurally while fogging the ears with a paranoid ambience built to unsettle. The quality of these productions is top-notch: the lilting rhythm of After Hours never quite settles down, underpinning nervy synth gestures and a dialogue (from the Scorsese film of the same name) turned monstrously disconcerting by the cloying atmospherics. The track’s twelve-minute runtime is perhaps not wholly justified but as a sinister mood-piece it remains striking, held together by a satisfying live quality to its slowly evolving elements. 

What Preset offers a more definitive direction in its opening minutes, gargantuan kicks tearing through the intricate percussive fabric and promising a growling, eyes-down roller for the darkest hours. However, in a typically unpredictable moment, the track’s halfway point gives onto a series of gossamer chords which offer the EP’s first rays of light. Yet this light is filtered, gauzy, gently washing away the track’s pent-up aggression and bringing it to a brave, uncertain close. As the listener emerges, eyes blinking, from another Huismans assault on the senses, it would be easy to compare this tracks to his previous productions. They’re not as dancey, as high-concept, as mind-blowingly weird as some of his past releases – this is all true. Yet from where we stand in the electronic landscape, no one sounds quite like Dave Huismans. As long as we have producers like him around, preconceptions and expectations better watch their backs.


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