Peder Mannerfelt – “The Benefits Of Living In A Hole” (VOAM) [December 1, 2023]

There’s a lot of emphasis on darkness and speed trending in the Techno scene recently, but an often overlooked hallmark of the genre is extracting soul from otherwise synthetic sounds in order to blur the line between human and machine. Techno, at its fundamental core, is mechanistic music meant to make the body move, often with a mischievously dystopian twist.

Music is a potent cultural force, reflecting and influencing society’s values, beliefs, traditions, and social norms. In our ever-changing and chaotic world, it’s understandable why the hard, fast, and dark aesthetics of Techno resonate with so many in the Zeitgeist.

Perhaps another remedy to our collective qualms is to jettison uncertainty and embrace absurdity, which seems to be a lot like how Peder Mannerfelt approaches his Techno productions. On his third release for Blawan and Pariah’s label VOAM, Peder continues exploring trippy synth wizardry and perplexing percussion programming, adding to the label’s repertoire of artists pushing a gritty, psychedelic sound.

“Pumping Plastics” starts off with a steady yet bouncy beat, with a wonky melody—influenced by MMM/Errorsmith—kicking in around the minute mark, all rubbery and bulbous like some kind of demented bounce-house for adults. Things really pick up on “Vankelmotor”, with a lead that pings around like the particles in an out-of-control radioactive chain reaction that Peder masterfully maintains to keep from going supercritical.

“Eurotrashed” sounds like Peder lifted the lid off the gurgling and bubbling vat of toxic goo he simmers his musical ideas in, with volatile gasses wafting from the top of the cauldron. Stand and smell for too long and risk succumbing to the sweet yet noxious fumes. The closing track “Liquid Rattan Mainframe’s” squelchy and buzzy synth bursts of paired with clever metric modulation makes the track feel like it’s sluggishly sloshing around in the muck, flailing to get unstuck but nevertheless remaining mired somewhere between a half-time and double-time feel.

“The Benefits Of Living In A Hole” will surely raise eyebrows on first listen, but with so much packed into these 18 minutes, subsequent spins are encouraged to really welcome the weirdness. Techno doesn’t always have to be serious to be effective; in fact, some of the least pretentious tracks are sometimes the most fun. Be like Peder and learn to embrace the absurd.

-Alex Dahm

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