Review: Dissociate – Opt Out

Dissociate album Opt Out

(This review was written by Rory Hughes)

The world of electronic music is full of obsessives, collectors, and genre monomaniacs—those who put everything into that one style; since the earliest shapes of house and techno coming out of Detroit and Chicago in the ’80s to the hyper-prolific micro-genre bedroom producers of today’s streamscape, it’s these sonic partisans that have kept their respective styles on the map.

But then there are those eclectic genre-benders never satisfied treading the same old paths. Jonathan Ford began his project Dissociate in 2001. His catalogue boasts many shades of dark electronic music: rhythmic noise, glacial techno, IDM, glitch; with alien melodies and chaotic sound design; this is for those who like their electronic music abrasive—for those fans of broken beats, industrial techno and digital hardcore.

Opt Out is Ford’s latest EP, and one that—clocking in at just over 34 minutes—wastes no time. The first track “Slink” is a layered tribal techno number; building dissonance taking us to more familiar territory, yet with some psychedelic urgency, as if Simon Posford were desperately trying to untangle himself from a jungle of leads and distortion pedals.

“Branches” changes gears: an industrial subfreq dub stomper, never satisfied with its own journey, taking pit stops to enforce menacing and disorientating glitch patterns. “Rended” is a tour-de-force of things both typical and atypical of Ford’s sound: cutting trip-hop snares, sinister synths, some Eastern-inspired motifs, all with the foundation of his signature rhythmic noise.

“Neurological Misfire” is one of the most unique tracks on the release: occasional minimalism with none of the safety; crushing beats, haunting synths, the sounds of strangled telephones and deranged dial-up tones; of sentient hardware being tortured, torn apart, cannibalized and put together again.

“Murk” brings back the subfreq stomp of “Branches”; with a fairly uniform beat, too slow for techno, too fast for dub, it goes at its own pace, again building from something harmless to a cyberpunk march with X-file arpeggios and nasty neuro synths. The EP ends with “Desist”, a curious 2-step bass-heavy track that begins as the most melodic track on the record—the end credits; the humanist retrospective to a tale of destruction—yet ultimately ends with another fix of reality as melody again makes way for a relentless noisy coda.

Dissociate is a truly hidden gem; his sound design skills are tantamount to the big left-field names of labels like Warp Records and Planet Mu. This is noise with precision and purpose; IDM on the heavy offensive.

Opt Out is out now via Give/Take.

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