Trust, the official debut album of Sleeparchive on Tresor, continues his streak as one of the premier producers of pitch-black industrial minimalism.
The imprint left by Downwards on techno cannot be overstated. From its humble beginnings in Mick Harris’s studio, the terse slabs of industrial techno released by Regis, Surgeon and associates have left an indelible mark on all dark techno that came afterwards. Although the originators have moved on from the original sound to Surgeon’s modular experiments and Regis’s forays into post-punk and industrial, the sound’s intensity still resonates in 2020. Trust presents a contemporary spin on the icy aesthetics of Birmingham techno without falling into the trap of pastiche.
The eight tracks composing Trust follow a typical formula, familiar to fans of Sleeparchive and industrial techno in general. The average runtime of a track is around the four minute mark, the main motif is immediately introduced and the track barrels on with only minimal variation over its course, ending abruptly. This is no-frills techno at its finest. Any individual tune is composed of only a handful of elements, following the monotrack ethos to the core.
“Needle” starts with a few seconds of hiss before erupting into clanking dissonance over a simple kick-hat rhythm, recalling late-90s releases by Regis like “Disease Through Affliction” or “Facilities”, while the crashing hi-hats and needling synth stabs of “Peccant” bring to mind the intensity of early Surgeon at his wildest. “Dust” is a claustrophobic number where a fast-paced kick is paired with tense synths, creating a wall of noise that threatens to overwhelm the speakers. The album’s closer, “Trust v.1” is a rework of the previously released “Trust v.2”, bringing its horror movie strings to the forefront to ratchet up the tension even further.
Not every track on Trust fits the Brummie mold. “Glass” and “Leave” take a more Detroit-influenced approach. The former’s sonar blips and bubbling synths bringing a deeper vibe reminiscent of the underwater murk of Terrence Dixon. “Leave” is almost melodic with a crescendoing synth that’s the closest the album comes to a moment of lightness. On the other hand, “Concrete” borders on technoise with its drilling synths, off-beat percussion and noisy kick, resulting in a track that only the bravest DJ would consider bringing to the dancefloor. As is Sleeparchive’s usual fashion, the album includes two locked grooves, called “Loop 1” and “Loop 2”. It’s hard to get the full impact of them from a digital release, but both seem like interesting tools in their own right, especially “Loop 2”, a surprisingly spacious, bleepy number that could fit into most peak-time sets.
If you aren’t already a fan of the brutalist workouts coming from Birmingham, Trust will not change your mind. This is a traditionalist album that makes no attempt to please the ear of the novice or soften its impact. On the other hand, if you are already a fan of the sound, there is a lot to love here. With Trust, Sleeparchive has crafted an album that could be a lost Downwards classic rediscovered in 2020.
Trust is out now as a vinyl-only release on Tresor Records.