MKFN :: This Divide EP (Touchin’ Bass)

Though it’s superficially rooted in techno, the trans-national trio known as MKFN push the boundaries of sound design and rhythmic complexity.

MKFN :: This Divide EP (Touchin' Bass)

Though it’s superficially rooted in techno, the trans-national trio known as MKFN push the boundaries of sound design and rhythmic complexity on their new release. “Terrain” opens the This Divide EP with a swelling drone, microscopic hints of hi-hat, and a clattery, rolling beat. The movement pauses, then swells again, introducing bass drops and further layers of constructed sound. It’s an other-worldly, almost inhuman style, that reminds me strongly of the first time I heard “VI scose poise,” which opens Autechre’s Confield album. There’s a similar percussive complexity; a deeply funky groove, if only we had the ears to hear it. This one, however, you could dance to.

“Somewhere, Here” develops the theme further, burying a dub-techno chord and filter sweep under the heavy rolling thunder of the intricate kick patterns. The track rewards close listening with a melody emerging from the murk like the gleam of a distant searchlight in heavy fog. The PR kit notes that MKFN are a collaboration between the “trio of Babar Raza (US), Ovais Hassan (UK) and Fahad Ahmad (Canada)”; that’s very interesting because it’s difficult to distinguish the contributions of each member — the sound is cohesive and feels like the product of a single mind, or at least a unified intent and aesthetic.

“Inland” clears the fog with a delicate layer of washed-out synths and a trip-hop thump, that once again is augmented by the signature glitched-up kick rolls. The warbling textures and whip-crack snare play nicely off each other. The final track, “Stasis,” introduces a swinging bassline and a nod-inducing beat, before layering on sculpted static, distant voices, and what could be the sound of hard drives singing to each other in a darkened data center.

I normally associate Touchin’ Bass with label boss’ Andrea Parker’s brand of neo-Miami electro. This release, MKFN’s second on the label, takes the vibe closer to Neo-Tokyo—a soundtrack for a possible cityscape where the machines have taken over, but still need to shake their robotic asses on a Friday night.

This Divide is available on Touchin’ Bass.

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