- If a rose is a rose is a rose, then what is a Rrose? In the case of the anonymous producer behind four releases on Sandwell District, it's easy to guess that it's an homage to Marcel Duchamp's alias Rrose Sélavy. The reference is certainly in keeping with Sandwell District's Tumblr, a kind of mood board of the historical avant-gardes. Whatever the case, his/her/their signature materials (classic-sounding synthesizers and drum machines) and form (dusky, straight-ahead techno) are readily apparent throughout.
Both tracks on the Merchant of Salt EP are hair-raising affairs: the corkscrewing "Shepherd's Brine" is soaked in resonant squelch, and its headlong tumble recalls psychedelic trance circa 1994 (Atom Heart and Tetsu Inoue's "Head Dance," for example). "Waterfall" boasts a lankier, more relaxed groove, at least in the beginning, emphasizing skipping, house-centric upbeats, but the midrange is a maelstrom of metallic synths and silky filters, and the overall effect follows from the austerity of Pansonic, Plastikman and Sleeparchive.
The Artificial Light EP is slower, darker and more narcotic; instead of an expressway to your skull, it's a series of stealthy wormholes trepanning your dome in multiple points. There's no parsing the various elements of the three mercurial tracks; just an endless spiral of LFOs fluttering in the shadows of muted beats, and handclaps dissolving into fields of drone. Sometimes there are "beats," and sometimes just pulse; no matter what shape it assumes, this is techno at its headiest.
Merchant of Salt
A Shepherd's Brine
Artificial Light (1969-1909)
A With All Faces Bleached Out
B1 Worn / Scarred
B2 White / Drip