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Friday 10 February 2023

Transition Theory

In June 2015 Andrew Weatherall did a mix for Resident Advisor, RA.470 (with music from amongst others Flash Atkins, Duncan Gray and Vox Low). One of the questions they asked him in the mini- interview to go with the mix was as follows-

'Can you tell us the idea behind the mix?'

'The idea', Weatherall replied with typical wit, 'was to sequence some records together without the joins being too apparent.'

On the new 10:40 album Transition Theory (out next Tuesday on Valentine's Day) Jesse Fahnestock has pursued this idea into full album territory. A DJ mix is all about great tracks, the transitions between them and the flow of the overall whole. Jesse's started there, moved into making individual tracks and then turned it into a concept album. He's worried that he's releasing his best work at a time when people don't listen to whole albums any more but those who are interested will listen to Transition Theory as it is intended- an eleven track, uninterrupted whole- and those that don't, will miss out.  

Transition Theory opens with the slow motion, electronic haze of Tumbling Down, the distant and distorted voice of jazz pianist Keith Jarrett just faintly audible. As an introduction, it's seductive and glides in gently, percussion and a descending guitar line backgrounded by layers of ambient noise and FX. Over the next four songs, the transition theory makes itself clear as one song segues into another, the later features of one track becoming the first elements of the next. Ninety- Now picks up where Tumbling Down's drums left off but now joined by a backwards guitar chord and then some chuggy synths, building insistently. Ninety- Now's dancing melody fades into The Engineer, a sturdy groove picking up. It's all about momentum now. As The Engineer winds down, Picking Flowers sets off with the same synth arpeggio but then quickly starts to go elsewhere, transitioning into a blissed out two minute build up and then breaking down into something slinky and very European sounding. Picking Flowers then becomes Jimmy Ripp, the stuttering rhythm bent into a new form with a wave of juddering synths. 

From the opening notes that played twenty eight minutes earlier 10:40 has slipped and slid through five tracks, each one an extension of the previous one, new ideas bouncing around each time but all linked. At this point the album pauses. If it were a record or a tape we'd turn it over and put side two on, drop the needle or press play. Sunday's Cool bounces in, a chunky mid- set tune with a voice hidden somewhere under the beats. Regime Shift Dub busts Sunday's Cool's drums up, the tempo halved and dub's sense of space and atmosphere slugging it out with the former track's melodies. 'I can't stop it now', a voice says, 'I can't stop it now', the sense of flow and direction seemingly effortless and easy. We're working our way to the conclusion now, the distorted dubbed out synths morphing into Smoke The Demon. Side two is becoming a serious trip, glitched and fractured, trippy and hypnotic, psychedelic electronic music finding some space in between the loosest, most wigged out parts of indie- dance, the trippy edges of house music and with techno's intensity, the area Weatherall, Hardkiss, Underworld and others made their own three decades ago. At The Turning Of The Tide flows in on the oscillating synths of the previous track and features the voices of Emilia Harmony and Matt Gunn, reverbed and disembodied, drifting in and out of the twinkling synths and chuggy rhythms, the gothic spirit of basement clubs, hairspray and black leather now a presence. Thundering bass and drums see the song out and into the ringing bells of The Mountain, a track that breaks apart beautifully into an ambient dubby spacescape. Final track Mantis glides in as The Mountain finishes, the programmed drums now stepping things up, bass and guitar atmospherics (courtesy of Matt Gunn) the bedrock for a topline of sci fi bleeps. Onwards it goes with drums and washes of sound, bleeps and phasers pushing forwards for nearly eight minutes. 

You can buy Transition Theory here, the eleven tracks available singly, as an album and also with a twelfth track, the hour long album as one continuous mix. There was some indication Jesse's 10:40 was heading in this direction with his mix for Higher Love last year, an hour of music with a similar flow, feel and transitions found in there among Cowboy Junkies, Rich Lane, The Charlatans, Matt Gunn, Kusht, Yarni, Cosmikuro, MAKS, Hugh Masekela, Primal Scream and several 10:40s tracks. I've posted it before- you can find it at Mixcloud or below. You can use it to kill the time between now and Tuesday.

Higher Love 10: 40 Mix


keepingitpeel said...

Ah the man himself.

Andy was it ? *makes note*

Baz said...

Bloody good write up that Adam, looking forward to hearing 😍😎🙏🏼