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- Deviation Heat-Treated by Sensate Focus
9/10 Brian Staff review, 21 December 2012
Shit, with the other techno head probably grappling with several of his mad children right now, fifteen miles away, it’s up to me to get to grips with the new Mark Fell thing under his Sensate Focus banner. I was curious about what Sensate Focus meant the other month and found it’s a sex therapy term for couples enjoying each others bodies through non genital/obvious sexual means. Lots of feeling of skin then, sounds great to me!
This is Fell’s less abstract, more clubby work and to be honest is the nicest set of tunes I’ve heard under his name, on the PAN label this time. It’s not strictly Fell’s work either. This 35 minute exercise is sourced from the work of Heatsick, referred to as an “Audio Response”. I only heard a Heatsick record once and found it a bit one-dimensional although that particular dimension was an alarmingly entertaining one. This first half of S1 is deep rhythmic stuff with some really lovely grooves and intoxicating ephemera, some place between uplifting ambient techno and classic old house. Half-way it transforms itself into this fabulous sexy acid-laced trance thing that you could imagine Gescom slipping into a DJ set. The thumping off-set beat and ascending trance-y arpeggios are joined by a slightly annoying micro-edited vocal that I could live without but, hey, this record wasn’t just made for me.
Flipping this disco platter onto its other arse/face I’m in the blissful realms of classic, deep early ‘90s ambient techno again. This is the kind of stuff that sounds amazing in some woods at a festival on a sunny day at 3pm just after your third can of cider. After a brief interlude the vibe gets more airy with a seductive amorphous female vocal loop, a punchy minimal house groove and a sexier feel. The last chunk of this side brings in some extra-bendy U-Ziq / early Squarepusher-style acid squelch to add to the bloopy retro melody and spangled clangers sonar chatter. Both sides of this record are largely fantastic and embody the more ecstatic spiritual element of classic rave rather than just the pilled-up gurner/klaxons end of things. Some real soul and funk in spades here.
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