Rating: 7 / Format: CD/LP / Label: M-nus

We all do it from time to time. Generalise that is. I have to admit that my disdain for anything M-nus put out started in or around 2005, as Mr Hawtin’s twin-pronged assault on hipsterism and techno seemed to really take off. Suddenly all manner of folks with carefully sculpted haircuts and Macbooks were multiplying, making intricate but uninventive music. After a while, you had to ignore them; we’re dealing with a world of music so vast that you just can’t keep up with it all. That’s why we generalise. Names like Troy Pierce, Konrad Black, Gaiser or whoever seem to have disappeared into a fog of generic minimal, hopefully lost forever, and the less said about the Cube, the better.

So, when a record like this comes out, it’s a wonderful surprise. Autumn is a collaboration between Troy Piece and vocalist Gibby Miller, a vocalist from various Boston punk bands. The gothic cover art gives you an idea of the aesthetic going on here, but the emphasis is less on melancholy and more on the industrial fetishism of bands like DAF or Alien Sex Fiend. There are slivers of Joy Division, Oppenheimer Analysis, Throbbing Gristle, Maurizio Bianchi, Suicide and even the avant-garde mysticism of Coil here, given a contemporary rhythm chassis and shrouded in Pierce’s exceptional production. Cohesive in nature, there’s a strong framework and dark, brooding atmosphere throughout.

If there is a criticism to Autumn, it’s perhaps that it is – as expected – somewhat slick. The production is extremely rich; Miller’s voice heavily treated and looming out of the speakers at all times. And after its sinewy start – highlights of which include the Coil-indebted title track, ‘Seems like Static’, which grows with velvet assurance from Hawtin-esque bass and simplistic rhythm to a growling, acid-tinged monster – it’s a disappointment when the album enters what I would consider straight-forward "minimal" territory in its second half; the final tracks giving the impression of a project running out of ideas. Yet I also feel that it’s unlikely you’ll hear something as lush as this for some time to come, and the fact that an album of such sombre nature is being released in summer gives it a quirky resonance; an unusual edge. Autumn is flawed, but maybe it’s time to reassess to a certain extent what M_nus is doing.

Toby Frith [Bleep 43]

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