Friday, January 17, 2020

Abstract Thought EP 12" review

Abstract Thought EP (2019)

You never know what project, new or old, will appear next from the posthumous Drexciyan canon via Clone Records but something from Abstract Thought was certainly unexpected. This three track 12" first appeared at Clone's pop-up shop at the Amsterdam Dance Event, which was also how last year's A Moment of Insanity 12" by Transllusion was first released. This time there was no melodramatic lost DAT tape backstory, instead we just get three high quality untitled tracks, said to be 'taken from the original project tapes from 2003, recorded around the same time as the well known full length album release'. In a way to me these tracks don't even sound particularly like the Abstract Thought album but this should not be surprising as they were probably never outtakes in my opinion, but approached as a whole new release (if not project). I personally wouldn't put too much weight on the Abstract Thought connection but they do certainly have many of James Stinson's signature sounds and approaches.

'A1 Untitled' starts off with some bare drum programming and gradually builds up, with an addictive wriggly riff at its core and throughout. Over the top some atmospheric textures get added as elements are dropped in and out. There is one point where it gets very minimal indeed and gets very reverby and free-form. This stripping away could be interpreted as a way to reveal the very soul of the track before everything comes back in more or less as before. This is a brilliant track, sounding uniquely itself, a new universe of possibility which makes you wish James was still around to explore beyond it.

'A2 Untitled' starts off with the riff/lead part first and then again begins to build, but more quickly than before. After awhile there are some really warm tones that cover it and quite a few elements begin working together and sparking off each other that at least two if not three melodies are dividing your attention but yet it all somehow works together very well.  The breakdown here is not as severe or prolonged as the previous track and then it begins again to pull us along but in slightly different directions that before. A very subtle shift has occurred. I love the sad notes played for awhile about halfway through, a beautiful melody which somehow feels familiar. The track is just over 8 minutes and really stretches itself out and never gets boring.

'B1 Untitled' is also quite long at just over 8 minutes (both sides are cut at 33) but has a faster tempo than the others. It takes its time to get started and is much darker in mood than the others as well. The main beat sounds more like a flare than a drum sound to me. It could have worked very well in a dark club like the original Tresor basement when people fancied a breather but not a change of mood. At the end you can really appreciate this was made in one take as things get pressed and notes are played within more of a human time frame. The vinyl gives all the tracks a nice, full frequency bassy sound with loads of depth.

I'm reviewing this from the white label but from the images of the artwork I've seen online I really like the design and how it all looks and plan to pick up a copy for my collection as well. The hand-drawn quality of the cover image reminds me a little of Joy Division's iconic Unknown Pleasures diagram. This is a very strong EP, for me quite unconnected from any other existing record or project. I'm hoping there is more unreleased material to come in the years ahead, especially if it's of this quality.

You can sample and purchase it from Clone here and elsewhere online and in real record shops too of course.