Release Date: Sep 11, 2012
Record label: Editions Mego
Mark Fell is like a calculus teacher. As one half of the experimental duo SND and more so under his own name, he conducts unapologetic beat experiments. And like a math instructor, he's interested in process, in showing your work, in inputs and outputs. Fell's been more prolific under his own name than as a member of SND; Sentielle Objectif Actualité is a revision of three 12"s he released this year as Sensate Focus, one of which was already a re-working of a house thumper he recorded with Terre Thaemlitz.
Burial, Flying Lotus, and How to Dress Well receive well-deserved accolades and critical high marks for their fractured approaches to urban music. Whether those artists or their fans realize it, all of those contemporary artists owe at least some of that aesthetic to Achim Szepanski’s Mille Plateaux, the vanguard German imprint that showcased producers such as Vladislav Delay and Wolfgang Voigt and defined the millennial moment in music known as glitch. As half of the UK-based post-techno duo SND, Mark Fell crafted for that label a sort of circuit board dub, warm and inviting even when deconstructing and degrading.
Collecting seven remixes of singles released earlier in 2012 on the Sensate Focus label, Sentielle Objectif Actualité is another chance for Mark Fell to work with techno as something that's as much hyperclean art object as it is invitation to dance. Not, perhaps, a new impulse, but the precision of the work Fell shows throughout has a near distinct signature even in its amalgamation of sounds from various sources. Beginning with a steady rhythmic tone that is as perfectly ultramodern (in a 1980 sense) and nervously compelling on a near-annoying level -- if that doesn't sound too forbidding -- "SOA-1" settles into a hyperactive electro experiment, with the layers of further microtonality at once grounding it in noticeable roots and making it even more alien-sounding.
The prospect of Mark Fell applying his robotically incisive methods to the gloriously imperfect edifice of house music will be repulsive to some. Both solo and in collaboration with fellow Sheffield resident Mat Steel as SND, Fell uses generative systems to craft rhythmic patterns of perpetual flux, ceaselessly sliding through fleeting moments of dance floor efficacy as if zooming in on some exquisite, techno-derived fractal shape. It's a fascinating approach, but one which is perhaps prone to a fixation on dry technicalities rather than fluid intuition.