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Claudia Anderson: Synthesis

Claudia Anderson: Synthesis

Regardless of how direct or wandering, how abrasive or contemplative each track might be, every one of them is an absolute kicker, and each deserves a place in your mix.

Claudia Anderson: Synthesis

4.25 / 5

Synthesis is Claudia Anderson’s first solo release for the Berlin-based Tresor label, a relationship that immediately places her alongside longtime label associates and techno innovators like Drexciya and Juan Atkins. The driving, murky techno on Anderson’s EP is mostly committed to a classic sound, delivering a series of high-velocity tracks that focus on the exhilarating potential of this style. The definitive approach on Synthesis is massiveness. “Structure” wastes no time opening the album, forgoing any intro or fade-in. The beat immediately slams into focus, proudly displaying its towering drum sound. Anderson’s work here often draws on dub, particularly that style’s productive use of space. She never allows one sound to encroach upon another, instead stacking each frequency band to build a giant, full mix.

The interest in building enticing, balanced sounds is countered by the subtle developments. Anderson favors continuous pulses as opposed to a start-stop, buildup-drop format. A track will form out of a single beat, layering samples over this steady base. The lack of release leaves tension as the sole emotion, and each track here—save the ambient interlude “H-1 A.P.”—is a breathless, sweaty dance tune. Given this monolithic approach to structure, the nuance of Synthesis comes through in Anderson’s textural and instrumental choices. “Involvement,” though featuring many of the same dub-influenced production as other tracks, employs what sounds like muted guitar picking. This gives the track a rhythmically-shifting funk feeling, adding even more perpetuality to the already relentless groove. When these same picking sounds return on “Synthesis,” a comparable level of drive is present, but there’s an even greater sense of ease in the constant ticking.

“Momentum” closes the EP with a change of pace and style, both slowing the tempo down and adding more horizontal space. The first leg of the track is nearly arrhythmic, at least to the extent that Anderson continually obscures a steady downbeat. When the straight-ahead, 4/4 beat finally enters nearly two minutes in, it exists only as a foil to the lumbering bass of the track’s first half. The relaxed pace, along with the swelling structure of the hi-hats, gives “Momentum” a breezier feeling, though its deep low-end and the squelching percussion sounds provide a menace that helps “Momentum” fit in with its predecessors. Even at what would be her most leisurely, Anderson sticks to the hard-edged emotions that define Synthesis.

The long-form progression from the aggression of “Structure” to the low-swinging confidence of “Momentum” suggests a slow descent in energy, though to argue that this mirrors a dip in focus or intricacy is a misstep. If anything, Synthesis becomes more unique and creative as it progresses. Though she’s more than adept at the more traditional sounds, the first side of the EP shows Anderson as an inheritor of a storied style. The B-side, helped by the fluidness and avant-garde leaning of “H-1 A.P.,” shows Anderson’s more experimental tendencies, taking risks that neither “Structure” nor “Involvement” come near. Regardless of how direct or wandering, how abrasive or contemplative each track might be, every one of them is an absolute kicker, and each deserves a place in your mix.

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