Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Dust Science
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Pop/Rock, Experimental Techno, Ambient Techno
The active release schedule maintained by Ken Downie, Martin Dust, and Richard Dust across 2008-2011 stalled for 2012, but it resumed in 2013. The Return Ov Bleep and series of Darkhous EPs preceded this hour-length album, titled after a synonym -- "such a great Sheffield word," as stated in the group's press missive -- for trinkets or knick-knacks. While that might signify a disjointed affair, or even a compilation of stray tracks, Tranklements is sequenced almost as fluidly as Radio Scarecrow, carried along by five more of their wild card "bolts." Considering the Black Dog's immense volume of output over the previous few years, it's remarkable that the group's attention to detail and uniquely stern sound remains.
For Sheffield's The Black Dog, techno is both a musical passion and an ideological position. Steeped in the socialism of their native South Yorkshire (their recent EP, The Return Ov Bleep, sampled veteran British left-wing politician Tony Benn), the trio continue to regard techno as communal, democratic music. One that exists, as the press sheet puts it, in opposition to the "compliant mainstream.
The Black Dog have always been one of the less celebrated members of that '90s IDM movement that included Aphex Twin, Autechre and Squarepusher. Led by original member Ken Downie, the Black Dog's 12th LP, Tranklements, works as both a nod to their pioneering beginnings and culmination of 21st century instrumental electronics. Tracks like the arctic, melodic "Cult Mentality" and robotic, rhythmic "Pray Crash II" employ a vintage 606 sound, while the chopped, choral "Hymn for SoYo" and the Balearic, pulsing "First Cut" are nestled in-between, giving Tranklements a rich exploratory feel.