Damon Zucconi - Untitled Substance

  • An inventive outsider techno album originally recorded 12 years ago.
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  • Damon Zucconi isn't a techno producer, but he made a damn good techno album in 2007. Untitled Substance, first released as a free download, sounds like techno made by someone with only a vague idea of what the genre sounds like. Nowadays, Zucconi is known for contemporary art, particularly his work with HTML, like this text-only version of Google Maps and some other neat web pages. (He's also worked with Arca in this capacity.) Untitled Substance would have remained largely unheard were it not for Elon Katz, a Los Angeles-based artist and producer who first came across the album a decade ago. Now he's releasing it on his Zero Grow label, and it's easy to see why the album stuck with Katz: Untitled Substance is inventive, irreverent and oddly timeless. Untitled Substance was made during Zucconi's studies at Baltimore's Maryland Institute College Of Art, and that city's club music surfaces a couple times on the LP. The fiercely repetitive "Glasshouse" is Baltimore club mixed with Mark Fell randomness. Another Baltimore-like kick pattern emerges underneath the skronky chords of "In My Arms" before a gorgeous melody creeps in from the periphery. The other longer tracks have similarly melancholic codas. "No Fun," maybe the album's most intense cut, has an ending that sounds uncannily like Burial's "In McDonalds." His impulse to switch from jackhammering repetition to pure, unadorned beauty so suddenly is both striking and unusual. Zucconi's music often suggests someone just having fun with sound, and the album's many interludes underline this feeling. Each one is a vignette focused around a sound, melody or effect, as if Zucconi was savouring a nice idea he stumbled on while experimenting. Though the album was made by a dance music dilettante, it has several bona fide bangers. "A.P.I." towers above them all. Centred around a dramatic chord swaddled in reverb and delay, it sounds like a fragment of a DeepChord track blown up into a whole tune. The drums hit in a coordinated splatter, and the pattern shifts constantly mid-stride, so it feels agile even when it's heavy. This restless feeling makes "A.P.I." spontaneous and jerky, unusual qualities for a track that echoes dub techno. It's the kind of shaking up that could only come from someone on the outside looking in.
  • Tracklist
      01. Intro 02. Glasshouse 03. Interlude (B) 04. A.P.I. 05. Interlude (C) 06. No Fun 07. Interlude (A) 08. Interlude (D) 09. In My Arms 10. 240º, 100º, 100º