It’s a bit of a surprise to find Misstress Barbara’s name on the tin of a Border Community release. Hers is a name usually associated with relentless, pummeling techno, but unlike her previous releases on (ahem) Relentless, her effort for James Holden won’t be pleasing the boisterous tub-thumping crowd. Instead, Mistress Barbara turns the tables with two cuts of spaced out rhythm, claps and melody more with euphoria on their mind than bludgeoning clubbers into submission.
The title track 'Barcelona' is particularly serene: hypnotizing bells, gushing piano keys, broken snares and synths fuse together warmly to create the kind of emotional, human techno we’ve come to expect from Border. On the B, ‘Jamais Moi Sans Toi’ is slow-paced and quivering, composed of tenuous basslines and subtle bells. It’s purpose built as a b-side, and many will find this cut a little monotonous, sadly.
Elsewhere label boss James Holden offers two dub versions of ‘Barcelona’: ‘Bell Dub' is a delicate piece filled with bleeps, distorted bass and broken high hats that recalls Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, while 'Bass Tool' is a broken down affair of noisy distortion and synths, which should do enough to confuse, but is a well-made cut nonetheless.
Border Community’s trademark sound is all over this release – but who knows whether Mistress Barbara’s fans will follow? Like previous releases on the label, ‘Barcelona’ outsmarts the pack, and leaves a sweet aftertaste. You’re in for a treat.
A2 Barcelona (Holden Bass Tool)
B1 Jamais Moi Sans Toi
B2 Barcelona (Holden Bell Dub)