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Innode - Gridshifter

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Artist: Innode

Album: Gridshifter

Label: Editions Mego

Review date: Aug. 15, 2013

If one day the machines develop artificial intelligence and decide to take up music, their attempts to simulate dubstep might sound something like Gridshifter. There’s a strange sense of organic rhythm being deconstructed and then recombined under the force of implacable machinery. Standing alongside the more considered and slow-burning releases on Peter Rehberg’s Editions Mego label, Innode’s sharp debut sounds like a punk-ish interloper, the troublesome young pup in a stable of lofty thoroughbreds.

Such a description does the Austro-American trio a bit of a disservice, however, for Gridshifter has brains amongst its electronic brawn. The album plays on opposing shifts of established sequences of tone and texture, resulting in a sense of dislocation that, whilst unpredictable, is masterfully controlled by Radian’s Stefan Németh and bolstered by Steven Hess of Locrian and Elektro Guzzi’s Bernhard Breuer. As the album’s title suggests, electronic pulsations and buzzing static bristle across all 10 tracks, like electricity coursing through a generator (a grid, perhaps). There is something of glitch masters alva noto and Ryoji Ikeda from Raster-Noton about these harsh stabs of fizzy drone, but deployed with less rigidity and scientific precision than those artists are wont to do. Deep bass surges and loping percussion seem to tug against the mechanical textures, creating a tension between mechanics and a rhythmic drive that is recognizably human.

It is through these conflicting drives that resemblances with dubstep emerge. Although the tracks on Gridshifter are dominated by cold electronics, the way Németh and his cohorts deploy rhythm feels tailored for the dancefloor, with its inevitable coming together of humans looking for the most simple of pleasures. From opening track “Dedispersion I,” the beats Németh and Breuer (Hess only appears on side 2) unleash skit and jiggle with infectious abandon, whilst almost Burial-like bass lines insinuate themselves into the core of the track. “Dedispersion I” showcases Innode at their best, taking time to explore the discordant alliance between artifice and organisms, between rhythm and noise.

Sadly, much of the album is taken up by rather formless, brief, sketches dominated by abstract electronic dissonance, but, on the longer tracks, such as the excellent “Gridshifter 05,” the symbiosis is perfect, coming on like a more robotic version of Raime’s industrial cousin. And like Raime, it’s hard to really contain Innode (at their best) within the spectrum of dance music. Let’s hope future releases can do Gridshifter’s promise proper justice.

By Joseph Burnett

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