When I heard Manni Dee and Happa got together to start a new project, I got very excited indeed. Here were two of the most innovative young acts in Electronic dance music combining forces and I suspected the results would be exactly that; A mixture of Happa’s playful enthusiasm with the minimalist’s approach of Manni Dee’s productions style. Especially coming off the back of Dee’s brilliant Being and Nothingness EP.
The opening bars of Limelight Roles left me somewhat disappointed however. I thought: “Here we go again, another UK act that’s conformed to that German Techno sound that’s old as the genre itself”. It featured an aggressive industrial synth palette layered with enough reverb and distortion to fill a Norwegian Death Metal festival. The beat however wasn’t as regular as the rest would suggest, so I thought to stick with it and my patience was eventually rewarded. About 3 minutes in a kick drum on a break beat only calls in the first and second beat giving the track a delineable swing to. Although the kick still features a fair amount of distortion, the other tech-house elements are far more controlled in the mix and as a result Limelight Roles is a pleasant and welcomed surprise from the two UK Producers.
A Rebel from the Waist down is more of the same with a busier synth texture over a break beat. A couple of synths chirp away like a swarm of mutant locusts as noise and resonance levels are modulated through its existence. It reminds me somewhat of Prodigy’s Smack my Bitch up without being to obvious. I would have liked a break from those intermittently but as the title of the track and project would have you imply, there is no letting up here. There is a pleasant development nonetheless that runs the course of the track, mostly informed by the beat programming and you can see it getting a significant response in a packed club.
Habits of Hate is an enjoyable project and a surprising one at that. If you were to take these two artists last EP’s and pour them into some sort musical food processor, there is a slim chance that this is what would end up with. I am aware of an interview, wherein Happa suggested he did want to work in a more industrial techno aesthetic and maybe this was some of that filtering into the project. I am very happy that didn’t go all the way and conformed to that “Berghain” Techno sound, like so many had done before them. It’s only really the timbres that fell into that realm and this is something they could possibly improve on in my opinion. Words like raw and abrasive were thrown around a lot before I even got a chance to listen to this EP, and something that Jon Convex mentioned in tweet stuck with me. He suggested that words like these are mere euphemisms for a shit mixdown. It would be unfair of me to suggest the same of Habits of Hate since it’s not the levels that are the real problem. It’s more the layer of reverb and distortion that quilt the main aspects of the tracks, especially the opening of Limelight Roles, but then again they are called Habits of Hate!