Various Artists - Sandwell SDSMP-01 / SDSMP-02

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  • In a preemptive strike before Sandwell District releases its first set of albums by its short yet massively impressive roster, the label hits the ground running with two EP's of new material from its four key members. In an interesting twist, none of the tracks have actual names; they've instead chosen to just attach the name of the artist to the respective track and let the music remain the most important factor. Getting things started on EP1, Regis and Function team up to deliver a short but beautiful interlude. Haunting and industrial, the drone-heavy swells steadily build, releasing its last swell to lead directly in to the powerhouse original track of Function's A2. An arpeggiated masterpiece, Function has weaved what could potentially become his opus. It nestles itself squarely between historically poignant techno with the likes of early Red Planet, R&S and Laurent Garnier—and retains its power for the entirety of its ten minute length. Flipping to the other side, Regis composes an edit of one of the Silent Servant tracks that is featured on EP2. Pairing a new dubstep vibe with the distinct radar ping that Silent Servant has favorably used before, Regis weaves the stark abrasion of the treble-heavy synth with beautifully scored pads, swirling multiple elements below the recognizable original. Finalizing the B-side is an uncredited and unlisted segue piece that leads deftly into the start of the EP2. The Silent Servant track that Regis ably edited on EP1 begins the second EP. You could safely say that this track by Servant, one of two on the EP, is an extension of "Discipline," also on Sandwell District, but this production has legs of its own, and it stands on them quite proudly. Ending the A-side, original SD member Female comes out to play, handing in a stunningly lush ambient piece that, according to the one-sheet, was taken from a live session that he recorded while in a lighthouse in northern England. Silent Servant returns with his second original on the B1. Instantly noticeable are the perfectly mental sonar stabs, which marry perfectly to the 16th-note hi-hats, giving the track a massively powerful feel. Only when you think you have the track figured out does it release to unveil its aquatic pad washes and white-noise growls. Expect this one to dominate Berghain for months, perhaps years, to come. Finishing off the compilation, Regis again lends his hand to an edit, this time of Female. Another broken beat affair, Regis delivers a remarkably heady and vast version. The percussion work on this definitely takes center stage—the reverberated echoes of the hollow metallic hits are guaranteed to consume. You might wonder why Regis chose to not submit any original tracks, but I think it goes to show that Sandwell, as a whole, is a showcase of talent amongst friends where competition and grandstanding are non-existent. Instead, patience, a commitment to excellence and a close working relationship seem to be the formula. The results speak for themselves.
  • Tracklist
      A Intro AA Function B Silent Servant (Regis Edit) BB Uncredited (hidden track) A Silent Servant AA Female (Live Extract) B Silent Servant BB Female (Regis Edit)