The Black Dog Further Vexations

UK techno originators the Black Dog are pushing Further Vexations as a concept album, apparently recorded as a response to Britain's current state as a surveillance society. The concept comes across best on "Cctv Nation," a throbbing analog bass line combined with Blade Runner strings to soundtrack a journey through an 1984-esque dystopia. Vexations mostly sounds like it was made for isolated contemplation, but a few tracks point towards the dance floor. The best of these up-tempo tracks is the minimalist groove of "You're Only SQL," which marries unsettling string arrangements with commanding bass and stiff drums. The album's centerpiece is the three-part "Northern Electronic Soul" suite, which slowly builds into a monumental shifting rhythm, shadowed by burbling synthesizers. "Stempel" is all ominous strings and foreboding tick-tock rhythms. The last five tracks take a turn toward even darker venues; "Skin Clock" throbs and pulsates like its title and "Tunnels Ov Set" is an unnerving creep through industrial terrain. Further Vexations is dense but rewards repeat listens to tease out its many intricacies. Spend some time with this one. (Soma)