Monday, 9 September 2013

Surgeon ‎– Force & Form

Surgeon is the pseudonym of Anthony Child (born 1 May 1971), an English electronic musician and DJ.

Surgeon's musical style is characterised by his incorporation of the more cinematic and left field aspects of his musical background into his club-based material. His production, remix, and DJ repertoire are inspired by krautrock and industrial music bands such as Faust, Coil, and Whitehouse. In particular, the extent of Coil's influence is such that most of the track titles from Surgeon's Tresor album "Force and Form" are direct references to Coil recordings. Child also draws influence from Chicago house, Techno, Dub music, and Electro, and also from non-musical works by Mike Leigh, David Lynch, William S. Burroughs, Bret Easton Ellis, and Cindy Sherman.

The ever-present 125-130 bpm thud at Berghain can be largely attributed to Tony ‘Surgeon’ Child’s early output, so influential are tracks such as ‘Atol’ and ‘Magneze’ that appeared in 1995 on Karl O’Connor’s Downwards imprint.

Child’s early material had an enormous kinetic energy about it, yet also sounded brittle, ready to snap. Force and Form moved away from this, inspired greatly by the avant-garde mysticism of Coil, a band that Child identifies as an essential part of his musical heritage. It’s a sprawling, experimental LP that owes a debt not just to Coil but also Throbbing Gristle and Liaisons Dangereuses, and to my mind it marks Surgeon as the premier exponent of techno over the last decade.
Toby Frith

This was a request, I had honestly forgotten about it; but after listening to it again after those few years, I have to say it has aged extremely well. Full of loopy, dark techno with industrial references both sonically and thematically (see Coil), it's a classic Surgeon album revealing in full his idiosyncratic tendencies for bastardizing righteous techno beats with weird atmospheres and post-breakbeat loops. On that account, he always reminded me of early PWOG, amongst others; but that may be just me. Anyway, it's no wonder he made a turn towards the tech/dubstep crossover during the last few years.

His downtempo interludes are (according to Anthony Child himself) influenced by the work of his mentor/friend, Napalm Death's ex-drummer Mick Harris aka Scorn or Lull, who also contributed a dub in a 12" of remakes of tracks from the album.

There are four sides of vinyl on Force & Form, meaning that the four songs on the album each get an entire side to itself. Drop the needle at the outermost groove and the spinning record will emanate a ten-minute adventure into cycling tribal techno rhythms with heavy percussive bass. Unlike the Maurizio records, which also spin for epic lengths, the songs on Force & Form actually progress through actual movements, where rhythms change and new arrangements construct themselves as if two different techno records are being seamlessly mixed. Each of these four songs begin with several minutes of repetitive techno rhythms similar to the sort of tracks Child recorded for his Basictonalvocabulary album. After a few minutes of locked groove-type sounds, the songs then shift with the low-frequency bass rumbles being eclipsed by tranquil atmospheric tones. Soon the serene subtly of these high-frequencies gets shattered by the slowly growing construction of the next monolithic percussive hailstorm that will carry listeners through the final few minutes of the song. As if the rhythms weren't marvelous enough -- challenging even Mills himself as the latest contender for king of techno dancefloors -- Child's ability to craft brave multi-sectioned epics makes this an even more incredible album than anything he had accomplished up until this point.

Delicious, intelligent and groovy. This is an album where relentless drum loops give architecture to mysterious sound effects. After the brief intro, "Ice" delivers echoes of picks hitting crystals through a cavernous, throbbing cave. "Black Jackal Throwbacks" goes through three phases of wicked pulsating basslines and beats, with a thematic sound effect recurring. "Returning To The Purity Of Content" is 4/4 techno with shuffling samples that sound like it is clawing backwards (IDM moment). 6:50 in, the ever-experimental Anthony Child emerges with disjointed efx, voice samples from old places, telephone conversations, feedback, and tapes stutteringly fast-forwarded. The point to the dissonance is that as it dissolves into "At The Heart Of It All", the most melodic and modern-sounding of the 4 pieces on this CD, the contrast emerges. Whilst the last 3 pieces appear to explore a space before time, the final piece concludes the arc with modern-day electronica (refer to the introductory coo of synths). Beats build up the track until the synths fade off, leaving stylish beats syncopated with a busy clatter of whats-it's, to be bolstered by an electrifying low-fi doop. I hate the label IDM, but if it were to exist, this would be it in the shining form of Techno.  


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