re:ni // Revenge Body
(Ilian Tape)

The debut EP from one of the UK’s most on-point selectors in the techno-not-techno 130-140-ish sphere, reviewed by Oli Warwick.

re:ni has become such a fixture in the UK techno-not-techno-bassy-future-broken whatever-you-call-it landscape, it’s quite the shock to realise she’s only just dropping her first record. Since coming up through the NTS WIP scheme for artist development she very quickly established a creative identity as a selector with razor sharp taste – a pure expression which snaps your head round at the wild tracks she blends. Her re:lax show with Laksa is a hotbed of upfront mind-melters, and she’s comfortable re-moulding dancefloors with her own take on this ill-defined amalgam of 140ish club music.

Given the context, making her first production outing on Zenker Brothers’ Ilian Tape seems logical, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact it’s still a massive step. The headline in that regard is this sounds like one of the freshest things on a label which is consistently fresh, not to mention increasingly versatile. More than just breakbeat techno slammers, the Zenkers have been fostering low tempo beat downs and experimental gear from the likes of Katatonic Silentio, Jake Muir and plentiful emergent names. re:ni steps into this space with a sound as assured as her DJing, and the results are frankly astounding. In this case, assured also means daring and weird.

As an opening statement, ‘Don’t Go Dark’ feels pointed in its refusal to play it straight, pivoting around a fractured arrangement that achieves physicality without a heavy reliance on drums. Instead, the emphasis is on big slabs of low end – nearly everything else is the result of intense dub processing until everything feels like it’s swimming. It’s patient, and exquisitely noirish, but also totally nasty too.

Patience is a consistent facet of this release, and while the sounds tend to be textured, tactile things with plenty of character, the overall mix feels uncluttered and spacious. ‘Reverse Rave’ has a more pronounced forwards momentum, but it still staggers rather than sprints. ‘Spirits’ is where a more manic side of re:ni’s sound comes out, but every time you think you have a handle on the situation, the track pulls a switch-up. What’s telling is the choice of dusty sample material – cracked chord breaks teasing before a mean drop. They speak to re:ni’s musical knowledge and a respectful affinity for the lineage of UK soundsystem music which communicates through every creative decision springing out of this frankly astounding debut.

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