Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Review: Sandwell District - Feed Forward

Sandwell District Feed Forward
Quite a trendy one this, Sandwell District's album Feed Forward has been a staple of every trendster's end of year list thus far and certainly the centre of critical attention in the techno sphere throughout 2011. I missed the chance to see them play live back in February and have been kicking myself ever since. Everything I've read about them thus far describes their music as cold, austere, dry... so it was quite a surprise at just how lush this album started out. Opener Falling The Same Way is the kind of melodic ambient techno I absolutely love. It doesn't so much push my buttons as mash its palm repeatedly on my keypad until my thoughts become nwbgvftrdwojhnwqtfrlvndj

Trouble is (and I'm afraid I've been saying this all-too-much recently) the rest of the album doesn't really live up to the quality of the opener. What's the deal with this? Is this actually a trend, or have I just happened to review a slew of albums with ridiculously strong opening tracks that then tail off into uninspiring solidity? Obviously it's common in rock/pop albums to go top heavy with the singles, but surely all these electronic guys are DJs? Don't you people know you don't open a DJ set with your best track? It's all about contextualising that music in a larger musical journey. And, once again, the only track that matches the opener is the closer, Speed And Sound, which combines restrained acid bubblings with a soaring stringy chord progression that is all Detroit and beautiful and shit. The rest of the tracks, however, are just solid and moody techno stuff that has occasional moments of atmospherics and a whole lot of beats that aren't particularly danceable. Jeez guys, way to make it look like I'm just falling asleep halfway through all these albums and only remembering the start and the finish. The middle of this album is a bit strange: there are three versions of Immolare in there, and while they all sound pretty different it's still very strange, almost like this is an EP that's been hammered out into a full LP.

And what's this madness!? Discogs tells me this originally came out as a 2x12" limited release in 2010 anyway, and has only later been released as a CD in 2011. The original release was 22nd December 2010, granted, which is barely 2010, and came after all the lists (except mine!) and so critically counts as 2011, sort of. But no. It's a 2010 release, damnit. Does this mean I've been reviewing this damn shit for nothing? It can't even count towards the list? Well, good, because it ain't good enough to get on there anyway. Even though it does feature two amazing tracks.

Genre: Techno
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 7/10 (It's that stupid arbitrary rating again!)

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