Thursday, February 20, 2014

Album Review: Topdown Dialectic 'FUR 084'

What is it about anonymous projects? If it’s true that the ultimate obsession of every audiophile is to break through any and all barriers that stand between themselves and the artist, you’d think that a tape without context would feel like a waste of time. After all, at face value it doesn’t seem like you could find a more potent barrier than identity. Admittedly, this is the case for many tapes, but I’ve found that when a tape is really good, I mean good enough that it really takes on a voice of its own, anonymity actually becomes an asset. In the absence of anything else, the narrative can be just as personal as you want it to be.

Enter the new Topdown Dialectic tape from Seattle’s Further Records, one of three released in the month of February and one of more than 50 that they’ve released over the course of three plus years. Clad in an unadorned white cover that reads “FUR 084”, the five untitled tracks are a blank slate in every sense of the word. All I can really tell you about the artist behind the tracks is that he/she is either from Philadelphia, or one of the US Minor Outlying Islands (I would speculate the former), and that this is at least his/her second release under the Topdown Dialectic moniker (the first being a tape release through a mysterious micro-distro in Chicago called Tailings). That’s it.

But somehow, that’s enough. By far and away the most enjoyable aspect of 'FUR 084' is it's clever sense of form. Evolving and devolving over the course of each track, TD’s sound utilizes disembodied soulful vocals and syncopated beats to create a sound-scape that teeters between crests of deep house and techno-infused dance music, and an ether of atmospheric percussion. It's never quite full-formed, but never quite chaos either. Essentially, it’s like Balam Acab if Koone took his cues from Mr. Fingers instead of DJ Skrew, or Burial if ‘Untrue’ were screwed, digested, and reassembled. The second track, with its heavy house influence, is my favorite, but the third track is growing on me as well. It features a really nice veneer of static that gives the song a murky texture. It reminds me of what if feels like to walk around on a stormy night.

“FUR 084” is currently available as a pre-order through the Further Records BC, but it officially releases tomorrow (February 21) as an edition of 50. Not for nothing, I’d love to see TD perform for MOTOR or any one of our other local spaces, so if you are Topdown Dialectic, you should take that as an invitation.

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