The city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands is one of the largest ports in the world, acting as a conduit for Europe’s goods and materials throughout the globe. To electronic music aficionados, however, there’s only one export which matters; dark, hard and unrelenting techno. Bas Mooy, known for his label Audio Assault as well as productions on Sleaze, Planet Rhythm, Perc Trax and Mote Evolver, is perfectly content to carry that tradition proudly into the next decade and beyond. His new label project Mord hearkens back to the late 90′s tradition of desolate, industrial-tinged records with a focus on anonymity, something that is sadly lacking with the advent of larger-than-life EDM culture.
The latest release on Mord by mysterious producer Wire (not to be confused with the late-70s British post-punk outfit of the same name) further perpetuates this concept. Even when pressed by this reviewer for information on the artist, Mooy could tell me no more about the creator of this 5-track EP other than his or her point of origin in Columbia. The unsettling artwork of a man in a white shirt, black bow tie with a white ski mask is accompanied only by this ominous statement:
Face my fury.
Face my fear.
Face my guilt.
I am alone.
The record starts out with “Word”, an exercise in tough minimalism with a reverb-heavy kick, distorted toms, and a thundering crack of steel on steel. A heavily processed tambourine blends against itself to create the illusion of one long note, with a Dave Clarke “Red 2” style chord weaving in and out of the background with ride cymbals to accent and staccato TR-909 snares. “Iced” leads in with a tonal drone (reminiscent of early science fiction sound design) peppered with more toms and a thudding kick, leading into busy hi-hats and sparse stabs with tight stereo delays. Right away, we have the impression of someone who does not have time for pleasantries.
“Rail”, my favorite track of this EP, continues the austere assault with a chugging sub-bass element combined with more metallic stabs and snappy snares with just enough shuffle to add a groove. “Edge” alternates between straightforward hi-hats and a triplet-shaker pattern, reinforced by intentionally down-sampled chord stabs and an eerie drone which appears near the end of the track. The final piece of this record, “Drom” employs yet another muted drone that leads into a bellowing half-step bass drum pattern and slightly more dubby elements, rounding out the program on a more subdued but by no means less uncomfortable note.
While all of these tracks (save for the last) are extremely effective techno set tools, they serve as an enigma to the solo listener. These simple tracks are stripped down and faceless as can be, yet simultaneously feel deeply personal and leave ample room for interpretation by the audience. Ultimately, I’m sure we will hear more of Wire – even if that means we never hear more about Wire.