At the end of 2011, Antony Williams delivered a 12” under his bass alias, Headhunter, pillar of dubstep of the Tempa variety, with more carefully crafted textures. The release of “Clone / Projector” could be seen as either the death throes of a project that had been on hold for a year, with only one album on its CV, “Nomad” (2008), or a warning that he might pick up and jumpstart it again. But maybe none of that should worry us, because when the single “Footcrab / Dumbsh*t” came out on Swamp 81 in 2010, it seemed obvious that Headhunter was going to be a secondary project anyway, and that his new alias, Addison Groove, would be Williams' most important nom de guerre from now on, the cornerstone of his reinvented sound. Addison Groove was the future: driven by the use and abuse of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, it was our man's way of making the language of footwork and electro his own, two rhythms, supported by a fractured and frantic beat, that have since become the fundamental parts of a new kind of DNA for underground club music that is becoming increasingly important, from Boddika to The Host.
Since “Footcrab / Dumbsh*t”, Addison Groove has matured, releasing some crucial records (his second assault on Swamp 81, “Work It / Sexual”, was one of the best singles of 2011), and the evolution was bound to culminate in a full album, which is this here “Transistor Rhythm”, manufactured and financed by the Modeselektor-directed 50 Weapons. Maybe an LP isn't the right format for Addison Groove, as the project is identified by its nerve, brutal imprecision and immediate rhythmic impact, things that are hard to maintain throughout a whole album (for instance, the footwork LPs coming from Chicago are full of tracks that are bombastic on their own, but hard to listen to in a row); however, even though it's not a trip or a poem, Williams manages to give “Transistor Rhythm” enough substance and variety for it not to become an ordeal.
The resources in play here are those expected: syncopation everywhere, from the hammering UK funky of “Night To Remember” to the footwork genetics extended over the thirteen tracks, a virtuous use of the 808, and some moments bordering on electro that give the record a nice old-school feel. Obviously it's not the eighties kind of robotic electro, but a depraved, tribal brand of it that became popular through Brazil a few years back (the new-school baile funk of “Sooperlooper”), or a rave-like electro adorned with effects, stabs and violent pulsations like old Sheffield bleep (you can't get more old-school than on “Skylight”). That same concept of sexually-charged electro transmutes into the two collaborations with Spank Rock, “Beeps” and “Bad Things”, two moments of perfect booty-house for the ladies in the clubs: in short, “Transistor Rhythm” (besides the ambient minute of “Energy Flash Back”, a short break from the sexual frenzy) abounds in tachycardia and fits.
The final part of the album, “Entropy”, with its chain of high notes and high-pitched vocals, much in the vein of DJ Rashad, lights up a road that until that moment had been rocky and hard, like a cross-country race. Which is kind of a metaphor for the whole album: in order to be able to digest this sort of thing, you need to be trained to deal with constant rhythm breaks, brain-splitting bass lines and razor-sharp vocals. There are some techno moments (the very Drexciyan “Incredibly Exhausted Bunny Ears”), but they're not enough to lighten up a complex, mutant and polyhedral piece of work that could be defined as post-footwork, the skilful deformation of the music we've been getting from the American ghettos over the past few years. In a way, Addison Groove has done with footwork what Boxcutter did with dubstep years ago: he took it to experimental territory, with IDM elements in the production, and left it ready for the specialists, but most of all for post-adolescents who feel like behaving like pigs. Oink.