Ever since Ken Downie teamed up with the brothers Dust to reactivate The Black Dog, his sound has been built on two, in principle disparate, pillars: unnerving ambient - as successfully executed on “Music For Real Airports” (2010) - and rugged techno, influenced by the toughest variety of the British school. I say disparate in principle, because in old school IDM it was normal to work both fields, which were seen as complementary, one to excite and the other to slow down the heartbeat a bit. Either way, the reformed The Black Dog have rarely achieved the sharp tone of “Liber Kult” - the first vinyl (sold out on pre-order but available on digital) of a trilogy that will be released over the summer. The two albums prior to “Airports” – “Radio Scarecrow” (2008) and “Further Vexations” (2009) – were inspired by classic Detroit, Kraftwerk and multi-layered, deeply abstract, British intelligent techno. “Liber Kult”, however, is closer to Surgeon (for whom they have recently remixed his classic “Muggerscum Out”, in case you're wondering what's going on).
It's not altogether surprising: The Black Dog have always played a lot of tough techno in their DJ sets and podcasts, records from labels like Blueprint, Infrastructure NY and Sandwell District. The novelty of this 12” lies, therefore, in the fact that they exercise their obsession with dark funk, crushing loops and oppressive echoes. “Black Chamber Order” is reminiscent of Bandulu, for example, featuring a beat that rolls on thunderously with influences from trance and dub - whilst “Bass Mantra”, with its techno linearity but also the careful design of the textures, is more in the vein of Regis. It's not the most interesting stuff The Black Dog have ever done, it has to be said, but they are certainly worth following.