- Though he hasn't released any solo material in a decade, Konrad Black seems to have kept plenty busy, issuing a number of collaborations, helming a Watergate mix and co-running the Wagon Repair label (not to mention starting a family). That time spent on projects a bit outside of himself has worked in his favor, as The Scorched Earth is something of a reintroduction to the techno specialist. Longtime fans will notice that Black's love for big, mobile low-end remains—above all else, "Silene Dust" and "Sycho Te Alyn" push a dark sound hinged on chunky basslines with a subtle funk undercurrent. But now it feels looser, more expansive and sharpened, allowing room for high-contrast texture to titillate from the edges. Black even gives those sounds their own track on ominous interlude "Chelyabinsk Afterglow."
The Scorched Earth also tries new rhythmic ideas for the Berlin producer, delving into broken beat and hints of jungle. The sense of stylistic and compositional freedom across this EP is one of its best qualities; every twist and overlapping signifier serves to improve each production's scope. "Silene Dust" casts the widest net, and the way it marries dubwise soundscapes with low-key breaks and a bassline ripped from Autechre's late-'90s playbook feels inspired. Bringing to mind the darkest sections of Pantha Du Prince's "Behind The Stars," "Sycho Te Alyn" goes heavy on a pitch-black groove and the gnarled low end that propels it. The dedicated focus works well from a purely functional standpoint, but "Silene Dust" ultimately overshadows its counterpart in terms of sheer ingenuity.
A1 Silene Dust
A2 Chelyabinsk Afterglow
B1 Sycho Te Alyn