Clouds HTID

Clouds HTID

6
Prolific techno duo Clouds have squeeze one more release into 2016, their third this year on Speedy J's Electric Deluxe label. A double EP called HTID, it offers up more of the raw, metallic, mostly atonal techno the Scottish duo are known for. Just how in the know you are will likely dictate your enjoyment of the album however, as it may prove alienating for those not already on board with the duo's challenging style.
 
Music with little melody is arguably best when its form and texture make up for this tonal lack, and luckily this is often the case with HTID. The tightly programmed scenes of "Inner at Skinja's," for instance, conjure a sweet groove out of some decidedly ungroovy elements, as does mid-album thumper "Knuckles' Heavy Vanguard." It's not always enough, though; repetition and the wearing out of a good idea often mar these triumphs. This is less of a problem when its pounding through a stack of warehouse speakers like it's obviously meant to, but it can come up lacking sometimes when divested of this extra-musical utility.
 
There are plenty of stylish touches sprinkled throughout that mostly make up for this, though. The emergency siren in "Fallout" references early rave culture while simultaneously fitting in with the current trend of what might be called "disaster-techno": music that evokes images of urban chaos and destruction (Brood Ma's DAZE and Fatima Al Qadiri's Brute are examples). It's also rhythmically diverse, venturing confidently into more mid-tempo grime environments to good effect, mixing things up nicely in a style where rhythmic variation is arguably fairly key.
 
HTID is challenging and generally rewarding, but the already-initiated will find the most enjoyment here. (Electric Deluxe)