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White Noise: Downliners Sekt – Meet The Decline

Monday, 1 August 2011

Downliners Sekt – Meet The Decline


It's no longer uncommon to have an electronic artist maintain anonymity throughout their releases, but in a field where a name means less the music certainly has to be able to stand up and speak for itself. Downliners Sekt have already crafted an admirable discography jumping between genres that don't quite exist, and this EP, the third in their planned trilogy on Disboot, is a fitting closer.

Their last EP, the brilliantly titled 'We Make Hits, Not the Public' showcased a severe mixing of the remnants of UK garage into massive techno sprawls and it was by far their most accessible release. Now they move on stylistically once more, creating an EP of spare, reconstructed dance music. Here loose strains and bars are cast off into the ether to create tracks that feel both spontaneous and lovingly crafted at the same time, and at first it's a little difficult but upon repeated listens these tracks open up layer upon layer of broken beauty.

All I Can Hear Now opens the EP with a stuttering heartbeat across Burial-esque clicks. All the while guitars strum out and reverb into a vast void and ghosted vocals spill out. The overall effect is a patchwork sound that not only works fantastically from a musical standpoint but also aches with melancholy and longing.

Second cut Rising Saudade (a Portugese word for a curious nostalgic love) is a gorgeous standout track, with phased piano echoing across a lushly detailed and percussive soundscape, accompanied by those ethereal vocals once more. However this time the vocal samples are more clipped and dissolve back into the mix, giving the impression of a naturally evolving sound that does and undoes itself as the track continues. What gives the track its standout position is the stuttering beat that enters two minutes into the mix, tripping over itself with breathless emotive power while drowning those voices just before they ever completely surface. It's hard to describe but this sounds thrilling and completely new, at least to my ears. Locked Faces continues along the same vein, with loose beats dueling with lost vocals for prominence in a dusty soundscape that echoes with loss. Later the beats drop back in harder and sharper for a brief time before they sound like they run out of energy, resolving into a shifting pulse and layered bassy beats.

On final track, Hockey Nights in Canada, we hear a real change. This is by far the most introverted cut, with slow breaks replacing the stuttering beats. The sonic textures are harsher and more ambient, with some truly inspired choices such as the excellently jarring three-chord tone occasionally intruding upon the mix (you'll hear it). This is all set over the top of sampled hockey commentary, sounding like broken but recognisable sounds that come together in incongruous melancholy.

This isn't just a great EP because it sounds so fresh (it does) or because it's so restrained while so many contemporary electronic releases favour bombast (they do), but more than anything there is an artisan level of craft consistently on display here, each track is gorgeously detailed and warrants revisiting again and again. Although the EP deals more with melancholy and 'the decline' than their previous releases, their sound is undeniably delicate and often staggeringly beautiful, making this a must-have EP for me.


P.S. - I couldn't leave out the fact that Downliners Sekt give away all their material for free, right here. Enjoy!

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