A lot of techno released recently has been produced with one principal focus – the kick. That’s typically what keeps people moving on dancefloors, and as a result producers have been taking shortcuts with the rest of their tunes. I won’t name names, but many recent releases have felt suspiciously like filler. Figure-Ground’s Out of the Shadows is a welcome relief from this thudding monotony, the tracks built as much around atmospheric ambience, the use of empty space and intricate patterns of percussion as the kicks pulsing underneath.
Duo Figure-Ground became a project realised after 20 years of immersion in music, collating their independent experience and influences. They cite drum and bass, bleep, hardcore and industrial as particularly influential, and the interesting diversity of mood, intensity and texture on the album is easily explained with this in mind.
Imagine industrial without the dirt. Imagine an eerily sterile laboratory full of machines and flashing lights. This is the futuristic picture Out of the Shadows conjures in mind with its pervasive bloops and supplementary kicks, both rolling and staccato. The opening track, Loathing, sets the tone for the tracks to follow, bleeps penetrating a menacing wall of noise before breaking down into an acid line. Scattered throughout the album are dancefloor bombs that would send limbs into utter frenzy – take tracks 5 and 10, Desperation and Sensory Pleasure, as examples.
Primarily constructed with the club in mind, the atmospheres created are nonetheless various – contrast the warm and hopeful Fiero (2) or the pensive Relief (7) with the oppressive and appropriately titled Fury (12). As you may have noticed, reference to feeling and emotion from the track’s titles illustrates the theme that binds the album.
The genuine quality of the music on the album aside, the purpose behind its creation is just as important. A not-for-profit release, all proceeds will go to MYMUP (Making Your Mind Up), a Bradford based mental health charity. Figure Ground’s album has been made as part of a music, light and drama event in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, Out of the Shadows produced in support of the benefits brought to human wellbeing by emotional honesty.
By Ed Fernyhough | Loose Lips
Released on Shadow Story // 17th March 2017 // Digital, CD & Cassette
10. Sensory Pleasure