Is it dub techno, sound art, or both? This mysterious record reveals new layers on each listen.
Where the previous volume brought livewire dub techno, Vol. 2 is trickier: the rhythms are roundabout, the sounds hard to place. There are the glistening textures of '90s adult contemporary music on the stunning fourth track, and kitschy slap bass on number three, where an instrument that usually signifies lightheartedness sounds spongy and alien. Track six submerges techno into a sea of hiss that makes it bleary eyed and worn. Elsewhere, voices appear and fade away like breath on glass windows. You might hear some DeepChord in the fizzy beats of the eighth track, or Mark Ernestus in the hissy percolations of number seven. But even these comparisons are fleeting, because nothing stays recognizable for long.
The mystery of the project doesn't seem like a gimmick—it feels like an extension of it. Topdown Dialectic's music exists outside of context, place or personality. This opaqueness is part of the allure: we don't know how much of this music is manual, deliberate, or the result of some complex piece of programming. (The label explained, somewhat mysteriously, that the tracks on Vol. 1 were edits of software systems meant to produce "non-linear" sounds.) To this extent, the music of Topdown Dialectic sounds futuristic. Or, in a world where decisions are increasingly governed by computer-generated algorithms, maybe it's just contemporary.