- Intrusion. It's one of those names that's easy to forget. I keep mixing it up with inversion, infination, elevation, redundance and substance—five-dollar words that appeared on my favorite records from the Basic Channel camp in the 1990s, which brings us back to redundancy. How do you evaluate an artist whose records sound as if they would seamlessly fit into Rhythm & Sound's catalogue from a decade ago?
Every movement produces a handful of artists who break serious ground and establish a new form. Consider Ernest Hemingway's terseness or Saul Bellow's loquaciousness and how Cormac McCarthy and Salman Rushdie carry the mantle today. A closer metaphor to dub techno might be color field paintings or Swiss graphic design: We're grateful that Barnett Newman and Josef Mueller-Brockmann established the forms, but there's plenty of room for more of it—so long as the line between variation and homage is clear.
The homage component is taken care of here by Paul St. Hilaire who, under his Tikiman alias, provided many of Rhythm & Sound's brightest moments. Ten years later, it sounds like he's seen some pain: The vocals on "Little Angel" are weathered, more emotional, and somehow closer to your ear rather than keeping time in the dancehall. As for the variation part of the equation, Stephen Hitchell's Intrusion guise pushes the boundaries while giving you what you came for. As with minimal art and design, the elements of the dub techno template are finite: bass, drum, and some reverb and fuzz—it's the nuance of size and positioning that matters.
Like a disciple of Mueller-Brockmann working with only Helvetica, two colors and a grid, Hitchell places the elements in the correct spots along with a few welcome twists. There's more white space, the drums are bolder and the tempo is slower. While the jingling wash over "A Night to Remember" evokes Basic Channel's "Quadrant Dub," it also has the fingerprints of Hitchell's Echospace project—a soft and melancholy texture. The sound of proper dub techno is unmistakable, yet the canon is small. We need even more records like this.
A1 Little Angel
A2 Angel (Version)
B A Night To Remember