It’s always great to be captivated by a previously unknown artist or label but in a time of colossal over-production, an established reputation for quality can help listeners fishing in the vast data stream of contemporary electronic music.
This release is from a new label already associated with respected artists. Standards & Practices is the creation of Jonathan “Stave” Krohn and Karl & Ken Meier. It will release material by Stave and Talker (J. Krohn and K. Meier), the duo already known for their releases on Downwards.
This EP was recorded in Chicago, which as the home of the Wax Trax label is the American city most closely associated with industrial and EBM. While this is appropriate to industrial and EBM-tinged sounds Talker deploy here, it has to be clearly understood that this material is far superior to some of the by-numbers re-enactment music that’s currently flooding the market. Talker have their own style and their own agenda and the will and experience to realise it.
‘Battle Standard’ is the EP’s call to action, announcing a direct and uncompromising assault on dancefloor territory. It opens with a piercing tone and cold drones – a brief moment of ominous, relative calm before the track bursts into life. Moving beyond the slower atmospherics of previous releases, here Talker deploy dynamic, energized percussion drilled into tight formations that instantly command attention in a way that’s increasingly hard for producers to pull off. It’s marked by the cyclical return of piercing, industrial tones and recurring pulses that lend the track character and body.
Rather than relieving the pressure, ‘(Gold) Standard’ is even colder and heavier. Here there’s not even the scarce warmth of a drone, just a piercing high tone, gradually augmented by metallic impact. This would have been sufficient in itself but the track is then filled out by Aphexian chords reminiscent (without being derivative of) his masterpiece ‘Polynomial-C’. It has the same combination of intense dynamism and haunting atmospherics that few can pull off.
The EP closes with the more experimental ‘Snub Nose’, a more minimal and percussive track, marked by a glitchy vocal snippet that slightly outstays its welcome. Skilled as it is, its less atmospheric and memorable than the first two tracks, which alone have more merit than entire albums released by other producers.
Talker: Battle Standards
Label: Standards & Practices
Catalogue Number: STANPRAC001
12’’ // Digital download