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Tranklements

Recent years have seen The Black Dog divide their releases. Their EPs and singles seem more club-orientated, though still with depths that set them apart from most of their peers, while their albums see them dealing with more abstract themes and forms. In 2013 they have continued this pattern with The Return Ov Bleep and the new Darkhaus series serving up solid late-night dancefloor fare, while the new album Tranklements provides another sonic journey of an LP.

Themes from the back catalogue are still here, with the significance of industry in the music made explicit through the short ‘Bolt’ tracks which pull the record together. Yet unlike Liber Dogma, which paid obvious tribute to the experience of the external city with tracks like ‘Streets in the Sky’, this record seems to map landscapes that are more internal and psychological. Slowly building opener ‘Alien Boys’ is a case in point, with the title’s sense of detachment mirrored by a track which is in equal parts warm and cold, with rich pads ebbing and flowing under a bass-heavy electro beat while a melancholic acid loop trickles over the top. ‘Atavistic Resurgence’ continues the sense of internal tension, as delicate arpeggios and synth strings are brutally pinned down by distorted stabs and weighty beats.

‘Cult Mentality’ is one of the more straight-up techno tracks, with a solid four-to-the-floor kick and dubby chords and basslines that bear a resemblance to the softer side of recent releases from Fachwerk and Delsin. It’s a great track, though you wonder whether the song’s title and its relative accessibility are somehow linked. ‘Hymn for SoYo’ continues in pleasant sonic territory, though on closer inspection this track actually has a unique construction. The brutal disjuncture of ‘Bolt 3533f’ shocks any sense of security out of us fast, however, and soon we are into the throbbing discordance of ‘Pray Crash’ I and II, two of the hardest offerings on the record that would certainly do the job on a receptive dancefloor.

‘Internal Collapse’ goes back to far more inward looking territory. Soft ambience is shredded by immaculately made sound objects before a slow breakbeat enters. ‘Death Bingo’ is similar, again awash with the brilliantly detailed noise palette and chilly funk that you expect from the duo. After ‘Mind Object’ we are left with the immersive outro ‘Spatchka’, the kind of ambient track that you get so lost in that you let out a cathartic sigh at the end.

Another album of brilliant, uneasy listening from Sheffield’s finest. Come and see them in action at the album launch with Sheffield Techno Institute on 18th May at DLS. You won’t be disappointed.