Deepchord - Functional Designs Music Album Reviews

Deepchord - Functional Designs Music Album Reviews
On his first album as Deepchord in four years, Rod Modell continues to refine his bustling, urban, singular take on dub techno.

Deepchord’s Rod Modell is a singular presence in a genre that makes a virtue of anonymity. Starting with Basic Channel in the 1990s, dub-techno artists have often attempted to remove themselves from their work, recording under cryptic aliases and fueling speculation about their identities. Modell, meanwhile, poses in photos with a tobacco pipe and isn’t afraid to present himself as an individual with a fierce vision, positioning his music as an alternative to the “Berghain sound” of techno that he finds spiritually damaging. Appropriately, his music reflects a more human presence than most dub techno: Taking place in a dense cityscape instead of an endless void, it’s more interested in everyday life than cosmic awe. His music is pristinely sound-designed instead of lo-fi, urban instead of elemental, crafted by hand instead of shaped by water and wind.

Functional Designs is Modell’s first release as Deepchord since 2018’s Immersions, and the brief ambient opener “Amber” immediately re-introduces the familiar hallmarks of his sound: hi-def production, dense layers of phasers and static, bustling field recordings of people and machines, voluptuous chords that simmer low in the mix and give the project its name. When Modell brings in the kick drum on “Darkness Falls,” it’s like stepping onto a subway train, or being sucked into a vortex. Modell often titles his records in the plural—20 Electrostatic Soundfields, Immersions, Auratones—as if to suggest we’re meant to take them as collections of tracks rather than front-to-back statements. Yet the sense of forward motion Modell’s music generates is so powerful we still get the sense of each track hurtling breathlessly into the next, racing headlong to the finish line.

Though Modell’s recent sound stands alone in dub techno, he’s been committed to it at least since 2010’s Liumin, released in collaboration with Stephen Hitchell as Deepchord Presents Echospace, which wove field recordings from Tokyo into one of electronic music’s most vivid evocations of metropolitan sprawl. Functional Designs is of a piece with Liumin, Auratones, Immersions, and most of Modell’s other recent work, and the record’s most surprising moments come less from Modell finding bold new contexts for his style than new sounds that work well within it. A vocoder casts vivid splashes of color on “CloudSat,” and a percussive effect on “Transit Systems” offers a ghostly hint of piano. “Strangers,” the prickliest track here, builds tension with a creepy tolling bell and a leaden hi-hat that lends a real sense of weight to this vaporous music.

Functional Designs finds Modell playing firmly to his strengths, but if you were looking forward to the producer expanding and re-thinking his sound on his return to the Deepchord project rather than continuing to do what he does best, you might come away from Functional Designs a bit underwhelmed. It’d be tricky to identify which Deepchord album many of these tracks are on from a blind test, and though “Strangers” nicely sours the album’s vibe in the middle, there’s no pervasive shift in mood, sound, or approach to give Functional Designs much of a distinct personality within his catalog. Modell’s vision for dub techno is one of the most striking since its inception, but he seems more content to keep fine-tuning it rather than use it to open new dimensions.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Deepchord - Functional Designs Music Album Reviews Deepchord - Functional Designs Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 10, 2022 Rating: 5


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