Well, the first thing to say is that neither track on this excellent record lives up to the mighty ‘Cosmic Sandwich’, and nor should they be expected to. That track emerged at the right time, and at the right place, fashioning something perfectly discerning and original out of familiar components, while Eulberg’s epic reimagining upped the warp factor to the point of darkest ecstasy and remains, arguably, the German’s finest moment. Both those versions have been, if not copied, then absorbed into the language of modern 4x4 production, a curse and an accolade that is unlikely to be repeated.
The eponymous A-side to ‘Battle Twig’ is, nonetheless, an entirely satisfying affair – dubby but sharp minimal house that, rhythmically-speaking, favours disco snap over techno thud, but is full of the kind of hyperactive edits and gritty, squiggling computer melodies that make it a worthy tool to have in your box. It’s not, however, one of those tunes that’ll have people coming up to you and asking, “What’s this?”
There’s a concerted shift in style for ‘Scatter Realm’ on the flip; while ‘Battle Twig’ is a deliberately sparse, uncompromising groove (no bad thing), the B-side recalls DJ T’s finest moments – tasteful electro-house with plenty of melody and beef, and a high-pitched synth motif appearing two minutes in that’ll put smiles on faces any time of day or night.
In short, a top-notch 12” which fails to eclipse Barnes’ finest work, but blows a fair few of his so-called contemporaries out of the water. If you dug ‘Man in a Box’, get your mitts on this.