- Alongside Monolake, Substance and Vainqueur, Porter Ricks were one of the early flagship artists of the Basic Channel sublabel Chain Reaction, helping define dub techno in 1996 with a run of classic singles. Andy Mellwig and Thomas Köner stood out among their peers for their proficiency in sound design, creating bewildering and kinetic tracks that, gathered together on the Biokinetics compilation, rank as some of the best in the Chain Reaction catalogue. Subsequent records on Force Inc. Music Works and Mille Plateaux found them branching out into abstract drone-led techno and some questionable forays into uptempo, melodic electronica like 1997's "Exposed." In 1999, after a split LP with Techno Animal (AKA Kevin Martin, Justin K Broadrick and Damian Bennett), Mellwig and Köner resumed their separate careers in mastering and sound design. Mellwig was an engineer at Dubplates & Mastering, while Köner's reputation as a sound and visual artist led to commissions and collaborations with esteemed galleries and museums around the world.
Porter Ricks resurfaced in 2014, remixing Ryo Murakami on Meakusma with a wonderfully strung-out version of "Statical" that echoed their earliest material. Last year's EP for Tresor, Shadow Boat, suggested a return to their nautically-themed classic material, albeit with, as Andrew Ryce put it, "an increase in fidelity and force." But on their full-length comeback, Porter Ricks have refused to rehash former glories. What's most striking about Anguilla Electrica is how they've managed to keep their original spirit intact without sounding like they used to.
The creeping electronica of "Prismatic Error" has many different textures, but you can hear the growl of a Porter Ricks dub techno chord under the surface. On "Sandy Ground," a higher frequency cousin of that synth strains against kinetic signal processing. "Port Of Tangency" is the most obvious nostalgia hit—the title nods to older tracks like "Port Of Nuba" and "Port Of Transition"—but it doesn't feel like a retread. The complex behaviour of texture and tone in this music is a step beyond what was possible in the '90s, and that's apparent throughout Anguilla Electrica.
The sound design and processing should come as no surprise considering Mellwig and Köner's technical careers outside Porter Ricks. The ever-modulating nature of the tracks feels contemporary, reflecting the trend towards dense computer-aided sound design you might find on a label such as Lee Gamble's UIQ. But for all Anguilla Electrica's technical wizardry, it's an easy album to digest. At six tracks, its concise. There's no room for filler, and every moment feels purposeful. With their latest album, Porter Ricks have proven you can faithfully reference your past while boldly striking forward, no matter how much time has passed.
01. Anguilla Electrica
02. Shoal Beat
03. Prismatic Error
04. Scuba Rondo
05. Port Of Tangency
06. Sandy Ground