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Iron Triangle

[M-nus; 2012]

By ; March 14, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

One half of Tactile, Joel Boychuck has been with the M-nus camp since 2007. Including his solo work as Hobo, he’s only released a handful of singles and remixes over the past half-decade, pushing a visceral and perfected take on M-nius’s post-Detroit minimal techno. His debut long-player, Iron Triangle, an ode to the area where he grew up in Ontario near the American border, almost seems audacious for an artist who’s remained conspicuously quiet over the past couple years. The twelve tracks assembled for this release reek of an uncompromising, never-look-back kind of confidence, making zero apologies for their no-frills approach to floor-ready minimal. It’s as if Boychuck simply said “fuck it” and decided to put everything he’d done since 2010 out on one disc, letting the music take care of any lip-service by itself. Though that says nothing for how expertly sequenced Iron Triangle is.

Boychuck currently resides in Berlin and the influence shows in the tonal depth and relative understatement of his productions, but his rhythms and crowd-pleasing inclinations remain firmly tied to midwestern techno and house. He might draw from the Villalobos playbook as well, but sits readily alongside whittled-to-the-bone tech house heros like Omar-S and German minimal, almost simplistic IDMers like Roman Flugel. Still, everything sounds clamped and muffled beneath a thick layering of oil. There’s also a supple cadence to Hobo’s sub-bass grooves, quickened 4/4 lilt, and mechanical synth and sample textures that reminds me of Bruno Pronsato’s Why Can’t We Be Like Us. And beyond the more immediate facets of Iron Triangle, Hobo is willing to patiently drag his synths around precise, darkened pulsations like M-nus label-head Richie Hawtin’s work as Plastikman. On one level, there’s a lot to pick apart, but on another, there really isn’t. At times, Iron Triangle sounds like classic minimal tech that wants only to be taken to the club. It’s restrained yet brazen and it just goes.

Opener “Blackwell” begins with a delayed drone faintly shuttering beneath a sucking mechanical synth tendril soundtracked for a frosty, barren moonscape before the track drops into its aggressive mid-tempo 4/4 and physical, stuttering bass groove. The teeth-gritted bass hooks tied with a gooey kick pulse is a dynamic that doesn’t quit for the entire record and it gives Iron Triangle an exceedingly and consistently approachable center to the more subtle attributes at its periphery. With “Blackwell”, while the track’s foundation pulsates like a glugging, sweaty animal heart, its surroundings flit with layers of thick robotic texture being peeled away a measure at a time while a lonely organ plays a forlorn melody gently ebbing away after each keystroke. “Camlachie” sounds like a club cut trapped behind a cement wall, it’s quadrangle arpeggio and rubbery lasering bass trying desperately to get out. A static-y drone toils almost out of earshot and a clicking snare sits front and center, but we get a crescendo of sorts near the track’s end before the groove slams back into place.

“Ipperwash Dusk” breaks things up near the middle with the sudden appearance of reverberating 2-step, the track’s writhing, barely-there synths hugging tightly to the clattering, organic snares. It makes for the perfect engrossing, atmospheric interlude. The title track follows with its far-away metallic screams, caffeinated synth hooks, clattering textured drum loops, and cyborg vocal sample. By the time we get there, however, it’s hard to pay attention to the track’s brimming detail. It plays better like some internally-swept-away, head-case, metaverse club banger. The record peaks with “Omega Point”, the only track to really milk its climax with an overt, audible buildup. The beat exits to amplify the shimmering, bouncing synth hook as it gets caught in the decay of reverb while whooshing white noise steadily builds. When the beat hits, everything clamps down instead of blowing up. The moment kind of sums up the whole of Iron Triangle.


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