The spectre of Birmingham has haunted techno ever since the mid-90s, when the Downwards collective re-defined the meaning of darkness with their loopy, abrasive and ultra-cold sound. Epilogue, the third in a series of mini-albums from Ritzi Lee is strongly influenced by these productions, but manages to put its own, modern twist on the aesthetic. Released by the Dutch collective Mord, known for contemporary takes on dark, industrial techno, it’s a solid conclusion to the trilogy, and very apt for October and the longer nights of the autumn season.
Charging out of the gate with Control, the monotrack aesthetic is fully on display. The track is stripped down to the bare minimum, just percussion and a wonky, repetitive motif bringing to mind the slabs on Regis’s Gymnastics, but with a modern sheen to the production that keeps it from feeling like a copycat. The relentless, anxious Wired lands in similar territory, adding in the washes of static that became popular in industrial techno revival.
The B-side’s productions have a more organic sensibility to them, but the overall energy is still as dark as it gets. Re-Formation’s rolling, unstable kicks never let the tension resolve, ramping it up even further with synth drones straight out of a horror movie, creating a menacing atmosphere reminiscent of the more mystical productions of Ancient Methods. Humanized also displays a lurching gait, but with a more technological, dystopian style, like killer robots beginning to move for the first time, helped along by the persistent siren throughout the track. A standout is the digital-only bonus track Virtualized, which starts with an almost tech house groove but then offsets it with a truly unsettling, discordant melody. A ketamine experience from hell, the track could work wonders in the hand of a creative DJ.
Negentropy – Epilogue is out now in digital and physical formats from Mord’s Bandcamp.