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A Magazine for Sheffield

These Hidden Hands

Both already well respected individuals in their own right, Tommy Four Seven and Alain’s collaborative project These Hidden Hands comes to us with an electronic pedigree. Both refugees of London, relocated to Berlin, the last four years have been crucial in both men’s musical quests. T47 in particular has been one of the standout British producers of the last few cycles, working with some of the upper crust of European techno royalty along the way.

The release opens with ‘Trelsire’, a dark, grumbling piece. The atmospheric work here is laid over a syncopated, aggressive beat. The textures and notes are dark and industrial, perhaps fuelled by these two producers’ working environment, an old aluminium plant. The metallic sounds continue through to ‘When I Told’, which opens with factory sounds, swilling around another deep beat with a vocal that sounds like the first words of an over-acted Shakespeare monologue.

The purest techno plays on ideas of mechanisation and industry. It’s no secret that the first music to be deemed ‘techno’ came out of postindustrial Detroit, where man and drum machine united to produce an alternative tableau of the city. This idiom has endured, and what These Hidden Hands lacks in four-to-the-floor beats, it makes up for in sheer industrial ambience. This record seems to always have some sort of machine crunching in the background and, in certain tracks like ‘Ivy’, an almost monastic approach to synth work which invokes a truly dystopian aesthetic.

These Hidden Hands is clearly a labour of love. On second and third listens the sheer depth of the sound design becomes apparent. Each atmosphere is sculpted sensitively and I can only guess at how many more listens will be needed to fully appreciate how deep the rabbit hole goes. I love the spartan melodic work which starts to emerge as the record progresses. Highlights are the beautiful ‘Laika’ and the haunting final track ‘Hidden’, which touches on the great composer Debussy in its sheer impressionistic glory.

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I will stop singing this record’s praises and simply urge you, especially if you’re inclined towards challenging electronic music, to get a copy of this album. While it is not strictly techno in style, it is utterly techno in approach.