With his last album, Metanarrative, Claro Intelecto’s Mark Stewart tinted techno with bleak hues, and by the end of the record he’d pared his productions to their essence, suggesting brittle bones are enough to keep the body propelled. Warehouse Sessions collects Claro Intelecto’s subsequent series of 12" singles, a format which suggests a more utilitarian approach to techno, but don’t let Stewart fool you. The working men on the front cover may suggest a kind of homoerotics of functionality, but they’re blacked and grayed-out, a neat metaphor for what Stewart does to techno on these 11 slight tracks.
I say ‘slight,’ but that shouldn’t imply slack: even at their most sluggish ("New Dawn"‘s palsied pulse, or the laggard’s electro of the following "Trial and Error") these Warehouse Sessions still move. And while Stewart is working a familiar language, neatly triangulated by Detroit techno, post-Basic Channel dub space, and the stentorian step of English predecessors like Surgeon, he’s curious enough to craft the signifiers into new shapes. On "Hunt You Down,” Stewart uses the increased pliability that duration offers (it’s the only track to slip past 10 minutes) to connect the kind of awkward reversed patterns beloved of Wolfgang Voigt circa his M:I:5 work, with splashes of dub ambience and door-knock percussion.
Stewart may be a syncretist, but he’s not shy of personality; it’s just that his productions suggest he’s camera-shy. But the upshot of that reticence is the gracefulness of his best tracks, which make dusty grays somehow exciting again.