When DJ Mozart and Daniele Baldelli were spinning their slowed down interpretation of Balearic House back in the 80’s, heroin was the drug of choice and its effects was the perfect accompaniment to the down tempo music coming from the Mediterranean coast for a whole generation. The drug has hardly resonated again so strongly with electronic music – considering its preference to uplifting substances – and very rarely has a piece of music encapsulated its effects. That is until now, because at the first listen it appears that the new EP by Akkord conjures up an idea of what music would sound like on heroin, for the uninformed.
The lazy kick that accompanies opener, Gravare, first establishes a sinister air as it trawls along side glitch elements and a growling bass line that hint at the duo’s Dubstep roots. Manchester producers Indigo and Synkro – not a very well kept secret – have returned, to what some may consider their spiritual home, with a second release on the Houndstooth label as Akkord. The EP, sums up the promiscuity of electronic music and her artists today, as it breaks down the barriers of classification completely. Elements of Tech-house, Dubstep and even Noise all find a natural place on an EP that avoids distinct classification and transcends any specific time and space. The stuttering hoover-like synth and amen breaks on Continuum that supply spurts of energy over a lethargic modulating bass line is the result of this open ended conversation that Akkord is currently having with electronic music and its history. Not keen to settle on a mere single aspect of a musical culture that has become as rich as its classical forefather, in a fraction of the time, Akkord take all these references and present it a unique voice to their audience. It’s a voice that has been attacked by years of unrepentant abuse, and now annunciates only in a slow drawl. Even its more energetic monologue, Typeface stutters through broken beats and reverberating themes that appear only to disappear moments later and highlights Akkord’s masterful ability to evolve and recapitulate themes. Any notion of the omnipresent repeating loop is completely absent and this will stimulate even the unfocussed listener. I can’t remember the last time I listened to a full 7 minutes of an electronic track without getting bored at some point. Even the closing track, Greyscale, which takes the EP back to the subterranean levels from which it came, is unparalleled as it evolves during the various stages. Although its minimalist construction wouldn’t usually allow for changes in texture, Akkord manage to create these changing environments through subtle manipulations, like emphasising a reverb on the kick for instance.
Considering all this though I might have to change my opening statement, because if heroin is your drug of choice you might miss out on the intricacies this EP and Akkord is really all about. It might not be music for heroin, but rather exactly the opposite. The down-tempo aspects of the project certainly would instil that response in most, but there is so much more Akkord offers the listener throughout and wallowing in a zombie-like state is not the way to enjoy this EP.