The surface in this case is limitless and hyper-clean, glistening with the light of a stainless steel future somewhere beyond the year 3000. Sort of like Gattaca, complete with the relics of acid house and too many nights spent in Glasgow's infamous The Arches club (TTM's formative years were spent at university in Scotland). This would apparently jar with the choice of artwork—the cover is one of a series of anatomical drawings by German artist Karl Wesker—though, if you combine the two, they cut to the heart of Clarion Call. The eight tracks here share an obsession with intricacy and minutiae tempered with haughty calmness and sublimity. Long, artificial licks are interspersed with acid madness; jazzy breakdowns give way to beautifully crafted electronica.
The template for most tracks is deep techno, but with other genres bouncing around inside: minimal infects "Hex," industrial "Flaccid House." TTM knows how to work the crowd and "Hemsby Acid," written on a comedown from Bloc Weekend, is instantly shunted into a banger by a clinical steel hi-hat. He's also not afraid of getting brutal. "Attack" is like a marauding photocopier being tamed with a bouncy bassline and "Synchronise" fuses electro breaks with 303 harassment. Even here, though, the delicate is made utterly explicit with distant chimes bisecting the computer madness.
Clarion Call is a strong debut but occasionally the tracks don't quite reach the emotional intensity and complexity of labelmate Datasette. Sometimes, such as on "East Anglian Blues," it feels like the ideas are developing a little too slowly. But The Third Man shows enough promise that it stands to reason that he only mature from here. It's his first album after all, and marks another collectible addition to the Ai canon.