In the late 1980s the term ‘New Sonic Architecture’ was often heard in sections of the British music press.
Used by the infamous Swiss act The Young Gods to describe their epic soundscapes, it was also applied to other groups around the industrial scene such as and Skinny Puppy and attempted to describe the ways in which they carved out and structured sonic space.
This historic term came to mind when listening this release by Modvs – a thematic EP based on the abandoned Mayfield Train Station in Manchester. It’s not based on field recordings of the space, but tries to manifest its abject atmospheres through extended techno templates.
Modvs tries to build new sounds from the idea and experience of an old and decaying structure – an old/new sonic architecture perhaps.
‘PL1’ is a suitably dark and spacious epic, which becomes increasingly cold and cavernous through its nine minutes-plus duration. It establishes the style for the EP – suspenseful, nocturnal and icy.
‘PL2’ is even deeper and more epic, but also faster and with more prominent bass. Desolate winds blow through the vast sonic space, yet somehow there’s a trace of optimism in the beats when they emerge fully out of the murk. Distant impacts suggest the decaying structure shifting uneasily.
The Antonio Vázquez remix of ‘PL1’ is extremely innovative and atmospheric. Opening with
beautifully cold opening chords it’s colder and more haunting than the other tracks, but also features a really strong use of drones and minimal punchy percussion that works in harmony with the symphonically ominous atmosphere.
This is an outstanding piece, one of the tracks of the year so far.
The EP closes with Korridor‘s bleepy, moody rework of ‘PL2’, which is more precise and functional than the other tracks. With the drones less prominent than on the othe tracks, this goes into deeper electronic territory, similar to some of Oscar Mulero’s more atmospheric work.
This powerful release is proof that techno doesn’t have to choose between being conceptual/atmospheric and forceful. Conceptual, listening techno has too often been afraid to ‘let go’, more worried about seeming intelligent than being powerful but this was always a false choice.
It’s also more than just over-obvious sonic ‘ruin porn’, in the way that some architecturally-themed dark ambient releases are. It has a strong vision but brings it to life subtly and intelligently.