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Reanimator - Special Powers

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Artist: Reanimator

Album: Special Powers

Label: Community Library

Review date: Jan. 18, 2007

Minimal techno has needed a kick in the pants for a while, and Reanimator, a faceless duo from Portland who also double as Impractical Cockpit for the Load Records label, are here to deliver the foot to the groin. Special Powers and its satellite EP collect tracks recorded over Winter/Summer 2000 that, as press release legend tells us, were saved from Hurricane Katrina and upgraded to the documentary “security” of the compact disc. But that security is hard-won, for Reanimator are all about torched, red zones of distortion, rushing with clipping noise, full of rough grains that stick between your joints as you try to move through their stentorian techno.

Any record that forces minimal techno’s rhythmic matrix through white noise will engender comparison to Finland’s Pan Sonic duo and Sahko label. It’s a fair call, but for my money, Reanimator lose the austerity and severity of the Finns, preferring the incremental manipulations of hand-rendered improvisations to precision carved ex post facto from patterns left to run riot. They often come closer to a notched, gnarly update of the more austere end of 1980s electronics: a dance floor Monoton; Thomas Leer without the melodies, or a distracted early Cabaret Voltaire; perhaps a more febrile Tolerance. The only artist currently operative working in a similar realm, though, is Sleeparchive, whose tracks feel a lot cleaner, less given to sudden jolts of electricity. Reanimator’s music almost smells of short circuits and singed and burnt-out electronics.

Reanimator pull the brakes on horizontal development, though sometimes they’ll relent and let some unconventionally lovely texturology into the frame: “Phase Constellation/Diskombah” glitters with angelic harmonium-like drone before being rudely interrupted with detourned drum machine patter; the hollow clock sounds of the opening “Clicks and Drones May…” drop like roughshod Raster-Noton pearls. But with Special Powers the duo have cheated from obscurity one of the finest potting-shed techno records I’ve heard. If such a genre, in fact, actually exists…

By Jon Dale

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