Rendition contains political messages and short stories expressed through a convergence of styles that covers rock, electronica, hip hop, industrial and chill out. And with its straight rhythmic structures, sub-five minute song lengths and a lack of abstract melodies, it’s an album that’s accessible too. Throughout the 15 tracks of this largely instrumental longplayer, heavily altered voices peer through the mix, giving the listener encoded snippets of information that guide you through the stories.
Rendition is riddled with a low pathos akin to Massive Attack’s seminal 1998 release Mezzanine. It’s bad guys crossing paths in Hong Kong’s alleyways. It’s the frustration of seeking solitude, and being unable to find it. It’s bass bins, a perfect sine wave, and the trash of white noise on a broken mono television. Built with precision, Rendition belies Dan F’s huge depth and breadth of influential listening. It quite literally does not sound like anything else available today. And despite being entirely produced by electronic means, it doesn’t sound electronic. It’s a record for night time listening. It is a record that will change the way you think about electronic music.
As well as the aforementioned Bisc1 from New York, Regurgitator frontman Quan Yeomans also provides lyrics and vocals on Follow the Sines. “He did a brilliant job”, says Dan. “I’d done several projects for Quan over the years so I decided to ask him if he’d feature on one of my tracks. He took what I thought was a so-so instrumental track and turned it into what it is now. He spells the meaning of the song out in letters ten feet tall… he’s got more musical talent in his hair-cut than I have in my entire studio.”
Bisc1 features on the tracks The End Of It’ and White Wall, and he met Dan F through a mutual friend several years ago while visiting Hong Kong. As Bisc1 describes it, “We made a tune or two, the energy was right, so we made more.”
N44982 opens the Rendition journey by taking you into an industrial, back alley world with snippets of passing sounds over the low hum of a big city. Right On is all machine beats injected with sampled, edited cuts of guitar. A two-note bassline holds it all together, murmuring in the background and expanding into melody as the tune progresses. White noise is a surprisingly well-used feature throughout the album and is used with particularly judicious effect on Incidental. This is the closest thing to rock on the album, except for the mechanical typewriter holding down the rhythm until the whole song is interrupted as if by an ill-tempered neighbour fumbling a jack from an amplifier’s input port. Programmed guitars feature and are augmented by textural back-up including harmonics, string and pick up noise.
The album flows as a coherent musical statement, despite the surprise turns in energy levels and intensity: just when you think it’s an electronica-meets-rock album, it morphs through the back-to-back vocal tracks, Follow The Sines and The End Of It followed by the super dark electronic number Frag. And from the end of the last words to flow through Bisc1’s mic on White Wall, Leaves enters like a storm building, crescendo-like in its intensity, threatening to break loose but being held back. Anticomm marks a step-change from the intensity of the prior tracks. Here downtempo overdriven bass, topped with a gorgeous melancholic piano and industrial beats is perfectly placed.
Sand Pit starts a slow burn of driving, static filled purpose, backed by a looped guitar sample that is expansive as it is metallic, while Where Are You opens with a Chinese violin before clouds of apple-green cover and then briefly open, revealing downtempo perfection rarely seen. The static interjects only occasionally here, and a numbing sensation takes over. Dead Air Space takes you back up into a half muted scream and the second to last track entitled ______ is the comma in the sentence, the chance to breathe in, a pause before the ending of Next.
“I’m looking outside of what club music offers to find those themes and concepts I need to make music, and I’m not concerned if anyone else gets them but me. Others will I’m sure, ‘cause my stuff is not exactly way out there … but if anyone does follow what I’m doing that is now a bonus, not the goal.”
Rendition is available now through http://rendition.disuye.com/, through either digital download or mail order CDs and box sets. There are links to torrent sites offering the exact same files officially, for free over P2P.
I have posted a longer version of this arcticle on my own blogger. If you want to read some more background on the man and his nocturnal habits, go here.