May 30, 2009

Surgeon – This Is For You Sh*ts (2007, Warp Records)

Anthony Child (aka DJ Surgeon) has been producing hard-edged, industrial-tinged techno records since the mid '90s. Beginning in '02, Surgeon joined forces with one Karl O'Connor (aka Regis) to form British Murder Boys for a series of 12”s. Besides having a fantastic band name, the music stood out with heavy, aggressive textures and IDM-influenced rhythms built on a foundation of hardcore techno. Everything sounds like its been put through distortion pedals and lo-fi granular effects, while the beats have elements of tribal and off-beat house music. '05's “All The Saints Have Been Hung” 12” was my favorite in the series, with an intense, menacing vibe and pummeling beats, punctuated by a disturbing ambient piece centered around an old recording of cult-leader Jim Jones riling up his followers. I was excited to hear a mix CD by DJ Surgeon would be forth-coming on Warp Records in '07, and was very impressed with the result. A perfect bridge is formed between hard techno music and the Warp IDM sound, recontextualizing classic tracks by Aphex Twin, Autechre and Squarepusher into surprisingly danceable sequences. Many of the tracks only linger for a minute or two, and the transitions are often so seamless that you need to pay close attention to your CD player display to hear the start of the next track. British Murder Boys tracks make several appearances on the mix, producing often the most rhythmically compelling dance sequences on the album, such as the transition from Squarepusher's “Red Hot Car” into BMB's “Anti-Inferno”. Elements of dubstep/grime and raga are here as well, presenting a very impressive fusion of a wide range of electronic dance styles. While many of the artists on this disc are well worth hearing on their own terms, the mix is truly greater than the sum of its parts.