The rhythm has always been in Mark Fell, but he always held it in so tightly that at times it even seemed hazardous to his health, like a sort of liquid swelling underneath his skin. The codes of experimental music have often prevented the normal crossing of a laboratory / art gallery position with that of a highly hedonistic club or festival, and the Englishman has taken his time in removing the chastity belt that one could tell had been bothering him, even in the earliest days of Snd. “Stdio” (Mille Plateaux, 2000) and “Tenderlove” (Mille Plateaux, 2002) showed certain signs of house and 2step, evidently not at the level of Luomo, but spicing up the exploration of textures and digital errors with a little machine Groove. This circumstance, already known in Mark Fell’s career, has become relevant again over the last few months with different releases in which, after years of give and take, the floodgates of rhythm have finally opened in his language. This is true both solo and with partner Mark Steel. There is “Split”, the 12” on the Pan label shared with Japanese NHK, and since 2010 - coinciding with a relaxation in the release rate of Snd - Fell has released more material, especially on Raster Noton and Editions Mego. On “Multistability” (2010) and “Periodic Orbits Of A Dynamic System Related To A Knot” one already sensed a movement towards the club, but it wasn’t until his collaboration with DJ Sprinkles (“Complete Spiral EP”) and the inauguration of his alias Sensate Focus that Mark Fell finally threw himself into the arms of house.
“Sentielle Objectif Actualité” is a release on CD and record, but it makes more sense on vinyl - each cut is identified with its beats per minute, considering it as material for use by DJs. The odd thing is that he has signed it as Mark Fell, when to all intents and purposes it is the full-length, most ambitious development of the Sensate Focus material, of which three records have already been released (“Sensate Focus 10”, “Sensate Focus 5” and “Sensate Focus 3.3333333333333333”); one would have expected a more in-depth development of that material at some point. Of course, there is a trick: this is a Sensate Focus album, but undercover, as it technically consists of Mark Fell remixes of his other material in the trenches at Mego. Although the focus seems to be a bit bipolar, it has its logic: Fell seems to have intended the three releases under his alias as a scout unit, a sort of weather balloon, with an eye to testing his public’s reaction (and that of people who aren’t his usual public) to such a “club-friendly” turn of events. This would be the reason for the initial mystery regarding his identity, to later take back up the same language with his own name, without hiding, fearlessly. But the truth is that such caution, if that was what it was, was useless, because true Snd fans get that the project is linked to house, and not to just any house: there are samples of Chez Damier’s “Can You Feel It” (and no less than the Marc ‘MK’ Kincher remix) and of “Hard To Get” by Choo Ables, holy grails of the golden age of American house. There is even a desire for the freedom to say the same thing as one said about Sensate Focus: it is an intelligent and efficient refinement of deep house – with its bursts of piano and palettes of airy synths – with the usual resources of clicks & cuts and the digital gear of the main project. Divided into eight cuts, and two per side on the double vinyl – pure treatment as a club tool, with part 4 divided into two halves that demand a jump from the first record to the second (some attitudes are never lost) – “Sentielle Objectif Actualité” is the extended experience of an intermittent, pinched reading of super-intelligent club house. It’s a way of making club music that recovers the microhouse spirit of labels like Perlon and Force Tracks and renews it in the same way that other idols of complexity such as Frank Bretschneider and Alva Noto have done with techno. It would be rash to say that this is the best house album of the year – especially because house is in such tiptop shape that it’s scary – but I assure you that this is the most advanced interpretation that house has been subjected to in a long time.