- Over the past few years, Andrew Bowen and Dimitri Poumplidis, better known as AnD, have established themselves as one of the most brutal outfits in techno. Their music is the kind of thing that's hard to describe without relying on dance music clichés: uncompromising, raw, hard as nails. On the face of it, they might not seem like the kind of artists you'd want to hear a full-length from, but they've been widening their scope substantially, toying with drum & bass as well as drone and more ambient sounds.
Cosmic Microwave Background is ostensibly a concept album, although it's that most tired of concepts: science fiction. But that's only a problem in theory—once the album gets going, it's impossible not to envision a rusty, Giger-esque spaceship floating through the cosmos. Synths bleep away like long abandoned computer equipment and the ragged percussion evokes hissing pistons and clunky gear wheels.
There's a part of me that's disappointed in elements of Cosmic Microwave Background, simply because I would have liked AnD to dwell on their past sounds a little more. There's nothing here that's quite as terrifying as the harsh industrialism of AnD002. Nor is there anything around the 170 BPM mark, something AnD have toyed with on both the Esoteric Systems and FVS EPs. Nevertheless, there's plenty for fans of the duo's hard-nosed aesthetic to enjoy. The unbridled aggression of the synths and ferociously pounding kick drums on tracks like "Power Spectrum" and "Diffusion Dampening" are, to an extent, everything we've come to expect from these two.
While the album focuses heavily on peak-time headbangers, it's on the tracks that shy away from that formula that AnD's ever-broadening palette shines through. The distorted kicks at the beginning of "Non-Sky Signal Noise" are somewhat deceiving—what follows is a chugging electro number drenched in a paranoid static cling that rolls onwards at 102 BPM. The tracks that open the album—an extended analogue synth workout called "Particle" and the tightly controlled chaos of "The Epoch Of Recombination"—are far from easy listening, but they make sure the tense atmosphere that defines the record is built slowly, making it surprisingly easy to listen to as a whole. Ultimately what we've been given is a strong addition to AnD's back catalogue, which serves to expand their sound while retaining its defining features.
02. The Epoch Of Recombination
03. Power Spectrum
04. Cosmic Strings
05. Relic Radiation
06. Gravitational Waves
07. Photon Visibility Function
08. Non-Sky Signal Noise
09. Acoustic Oscillations
10. Galactic Motion
11. Diffusion Damping
12. The Surface Of Last Scattering