Irish electronic producer tuuun describes his first release FINESTEXPORT as “the sound of instruments and ideas being pushed into their discomfort zones” – a perfect one-line primer for his shape-shifting abstract techno.
The six-track FINESTEXPORT was released on cassette and Bandcamp at the start of the month, and he followed it up with the six-track MIMESIS a week later, leaving us with a double album and 90-odd minutes of nano-precision next-generation techno that sounds like it could snap the magnetic tape at any minute.
Steve McEvoy first emerged as one half of analogue synth duo Datadrip in 2011, while his 2013 EP as Sleep McEvox hinted at this present, with its glitchy, droney electronic explorations.
Classically-trained, McEvoy, recalibrated his brain during a one-year masters in music and technology in Cork School of Music before moving to Stockholm in 2015 and working on the tuuun tracks. Rather than release a series of EPs, he put all the tracks out at once “to fill the cassettes I had”.
FINESTEXPORT was all composed on one Kaivo soft synth and drums, which only adds to the singular sound, with fractal blips and glitches pinging in 3D, even on half-assed speakers or headphones. IOIOIO sounds like a xylophone fever dream, Flota simulates a digital spade scraping the inside of your head, and the nine-minute centrepiece Stilinitily sounds like Green Velvet’s Destination Unknown hacked into smithereens.
McEvoy says MIMESIS “was an exercise in paring everything back and leaving things very sparse and sharp”. It’s mostly samples, but we’re not talking lifted melodies or riffs, but intuitively tinkering with synths or feedback loops, locking into a specific sound and taking it to its extreme conclusion.
MIMESIS is the more challenging of the two, opening with a hive mind of digital chatter you’d find in the outer limits of the Autechre catalogue. But tracks like The Whip, and the playful kukuku (yeah it sounds like a banjaxed cuckoo clock) have a sarcastic playfulness, and listening to E_N_D_T_O, I get an idea what it must’ve been like in the 1960s hearing the Radiophonic Workshop for the first time. Divine Majesty also has the most fear-inducing handclaps you’ll ever hear, guaranteed.
McEvoy says of MIMESIS: “I suppose it’s just finding the danger in the sounds and the music… if I can put them together into something that provokes a visceral reaction, I am happy.” Mission accomplished — this is the sound of techno levelling up.
He’s set up his own cassette label FLUF, “with a mission to make a place for sharp and strange sonics”. He also plays around with the fetishism of the format, vowing that “audible and inaudible sound has been mixed, pressurised, mastered and irradiated by trained personnel and monitored by seismograph”. May as well buy the two so.
You can buy or browse tuuun’s creations at flufrecs.bandcamp.com.