If you could say anything about the direction US electronic music took in 2011, now that we have at least a bit of perspective, it might be that underground artists found a taste for dance music and ran with it. Look anywhere from 100% Silk to Container. And it seems that Pete Swanson, producer and cofounder of Yellow Swan, has gotten on the same boat for his first solo album for label Type…kind of. The glitchy curtains and swirls of sound you might expect from a producer know up to now for arrhythmic ambiance are still there but so is a kick drum trying to breaking through.
Opener “Misery Beat,” might conjure early rave music on speed with rapid beats, high-frequency sounds and spastic melodies, but Swanson still seems more at home in non-dance contexts than in full on techno. “Remote View” courses with subtle beats, buzzes, string lines and whale songs before giving way to the title track that screams with density and noise laced with a melody coming in and out of view.
It appears less that Swanson wants to appropriate techno, so much as use it to take him to new sonic places. Pounding kick drums on “Far Out” or the less tangible—but still present beats on “A&OxO” hint at something musical, but are met in equal part by high pitch sonic violence, a caustic balance of sorts. Closing track “Face The Music,” is, in fact, probably the most musical material here, but it too is charged with gnashing frequencies that hold it back from breaking out into full on tonality. What else might you expect from a member of one of noise music’s former darling bands as he blazes his own trail as a solo artist?