System: B
Rump Recordings

How interesting that System is releasing its latest album on what would appear to be its most natural home, the Denmark-based Rump Recordings, when B sounds like the best ~scape release the label never issued. The new recording (in fact, System's first full album since its debut appeared on ~scape in 2002) presents a seamless fusion of dub, techno, and dubstep of the kind that encapsulates the ~scape aesthetic in a single package. But enough of that: all praise to Rump for bringing the latest music from Denmark trio Thomas Knak (Opiate) Anders Remmer (Dub Tractor), and Jesper Skaaning (Acustic) to the masses. The three, who first appeared under the Future 3 name in 1994 and subsequently released three albums before adopting the System moniker, are somewhat of a rarity in electronic music circles where producers generally work alone or in pairs. Having three collectively shaping the material means that System's tracks grow to be thicker and denser than what's typically encountered in the dub-techno field, and consequently System's sound comes across as a natural extension to dub originators like King Tubby (that's especially evident during tracks like “Stanley” and “WB,” which inhabit the skankier, dubwise end of the spectrum).

After a slice of deeply atmospheric dub techno sets the scene (“All”), tracks such as “Drk” and the dread-fueled “Alpha” perpetuate a deep ambient vibe in slightly slowed-down style but add to it fluttering synth effects that suggest System has been absorbing the sounds of recent upstarts like Zomby and Ikonika. UK two-step and dubstep influences also surface in other tracks. That “Well Blank,” for example, has been playlisted by dubstep-producers 2562 and Geiom makes sense, given the tune's heavy loping gait and generally blunted ambiance. Ending the recording with five minutes of ambient electronica (“Meadow and Stuff”) testifies to the range of music System's capable of delivering when the mood hits. At forty minutes, the recording is lean by CD standards, but all that means in this case is that every note counts and all excess has been banished. System devotees will recall that the three members collaborated with Ghost Society singer Sara Savery under the People Press Play name for an excellent album on Morr Music in 2008; we're told, however, that the project no longer exists. If there's an upside, it's that the demise of that project might allow Knak, Remmer, and Skaaning to invest more time and energy into their System endeavours.

October 2010