- Rough, rollicking techno and electro.
- Though Joel Shanahan releases a wide variety of music, when I think of Golden Donna, I tend to think of lush, windswept techno. The synths are in Gaussian blur, the drums are reassuring, the basslines caressing. It's ethereal, sometimes fluffy and always addictive stuff. But on The Damage Has Been Done, dude sounds pissed. One of the first things you'll note on the opening track, "Pushing," is how those once comforting basslines have now been contorted into dive bombs of quaking low-end. The usual gilded arpeggios are still there, but their gleam is scuffed by the raw, grotty textures.
That's the vibe for most of the EP. "Drain" is harsh, while the title track has some of the nastiest sounds on any Shanahan record I've heard, the synths sounding curdled and noxious over an uncharacteristically heavy electro beat. The squelch returns on the even more over-the-top "Protocol," where a techno instrumental that sounds like it was rescued from some chewed tape is flecked by breaking glass and other violent samples, along with a 303-ish lead with the distortion turned all the way up. But it's not just a matter of making the harshest music Shanahan can. These tracks still have room to breathe and the kind of decorous melodies we expect from him.
The EP's best track, "Try," bridges the gap between extremes. With its bright, spaced-out leads, it could be from an old Tresor record, and the movement here is more of a glide than a stomp. But the thrill of The Damage Has Been Done lies in its risk-taking and its sheer I-don't-give-a-fuck-ness. Shanahan has long been one of my favorite American techno producers, in part because of the lightness and atmospheric style of his music. It's an unexpected pleasure to hear him take his frustrations out on his gear, with all the best parts of his work still intact, just under a layer of dirt.
02. The Damage Has Been Done