- After a two-year hiatus, Cheap and Deep's Jay Ahern returns to the fray with a new label, Modular Cowboy, whose name fits right in with Ahern's analog-centric approach. Back in 2010, his duo Hauntologists (with To Rococo Rot's Stefan Schneider) eked a spare, tentative take on techno out of their machines, but his new single, "Beautiful," is far more direct. The mutable acid line, growling in the low end and bleating out the high notes, recalls vintage Plastikman; the measured speech of the vocalist Crissy Liu, mixed subliminally low, warms the acid-chilled atmosphere. It's intense, but it's also curiously soft, as though wrapped in shadow and gauze; it might take you a few listens to realize that there's no clap and no snare, just a suggestive rustle of shakers and watery hi-hats.
The EP's other two tracks are both remixes of Cheap and Deep's "Words, Breaths & Pauses," released in 2009. Norman Nodge sounds uncharacteristically restrained, even after the floating-in-midair vibes of his remix of Trus'me's "Good God" earlier this year. There's hardly anything going on besides a scuffed kick and some glancing, syncopated chords. Uta Alder's detached spoken-word, filtered through dub delay, fills up the cavernous empty space like so many cobwebs; it sounds like a love-letter to line noise, and it's one you'll want to hear loud to really appreciate. Jonsson/Alter's mix is also bare-bones, but it's beefier, with a jacking, slow-motion groove and a sullen, bruising bassline. The exhilarating breakdown takes the title at face value—a word, a breath, a pause—before chilly, Baroque-inspired string synths take us into full-on tearjerker territory.
A Words, Breathe & Pauses (Norman Nodge Remix)
B1 Words, Breathe & Pauses (Jonsson / Alter Remix)