Audion: Suckfish

With three EPs (Kisses, The Pong, Just Fucking) currently available, Spectral devotees will already be familiar with Matthew Dear's pulverizing Audion style; fashionable latecomers can easily catch up, however, as five of the EPs' tracks re-appear on the bruising full-length debut alongside six others. While it's tempting to do so, it would be too simple—and inaccurate—to label Suckfish the Mr. Hyde to Leave Luck to Heaven's Dr. Jekyll. Yes, the Audion sound is dark, demonic, and gritty, so much so that its acid squelches, churning hi-hats, and writhing synths seem perfectly capable of boring a hole through your skull. And, yes, some tracks do hew to that style, like the raging hardstepper “The Pong,” the mechano slammer “Just Fucking,” and “Titty Fuck,” whose escalating onslaught of tweaked burble and grinding fuzz inarguably ups the insanity ante.

But Suckfish is nowhere near as merciless as listeners primed by the EPs might anticipate. In place of a pummeling, one-dimensional attack that would captivate but also wear thin fast, Dear wisely alternates harder-edged material with more restrained fare. It's certainly no accident that the burner “Kisses,” for example, is preceded by the infectiously sensual swing and soft female coo of “T.B.” and followed by the dub-flavoured machine melancholy of “Weild.” The very fact that the album opens with the restrained pinprick smears of “Vegetables” and the entrancing shuffle “Your Place of Mine” indicates that Dear is eager to broaden the Audion sound beyond a single style. And, incidentally, while Suckfish and Leave Luck To Heaven are fundamentally different, fans of the latter will detect occasional traces of its rhythm structures buried deep within the other's tracks. Still, what distinguishes Suckfish most of all is how Dear uses contrasts of dynamics and mood to enrich techno's relentless attack with elements of tension and release.

October 2005