Boomkat Product Review:
Deforrest Brown Jr. returns with 'Techxodus', a free-jazz inspired collision of jittery beatbox rhythms, Drexciyan synth tones and giddy voidwork that shuttles Black music into the cosmos.
"Black music that sounds technological, rather than music made with technology," Brown Jr. states in the opening seconds of 'D.T.A.W.O. (Deprogramming the Atonist World Order)'. At this stage in his career, the Alabama-born theorist, author and self-styled rhythmanalyst has already established his philosophical and aesthetic space, most clearly defined on 2020's radical 'Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry'. And if that album laid out a motion to reclaim techno and electro from contemporary usurpers, 'Techxodus' assures listeners that the only way out is literally out - an escape from white supremacy that propels us to the stars.
It can be read in multiple ways: as an epilogue to Brown Jr's historical deconstruction of techno in 'Assembling A Black Counter Culture', as a parallel to Drexicya's 'The Journey Home', or as a way to grapple with technological changes that place culture in the hands of racially-biased algorithms. His way of approaching these themes is expectedly eccentric; Brown Jr. doesn't make anything that resembles contemporary, whitewashed techno, but uses the genre's eclectic roots to prompt further research and development, using familiar elements (hoover sounds, 808 bumps, squealing synths) to punctuate his itchy rhythmic phrases.
Once again, Brown Jr's idiosyncratic rhythms are the focus, made with an iPad and a controller to enhance the freedom that comes from improvisation. Disengaged DAW music this ain't, 'Techxodus' drips with sweat and vibrates with beats that echo from the body's deepest recesses, connecting techno to the art of dance outside of contemporary club expectations. It's purposefully dysfunctional in many ways, with arched squeals ducking between acoustic and electronic percussive trills on 'Futurhythmic Bop', a track that sounds like a footwork-informed queering of 'Mentasm', or Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima's enduring 'Streets of Rage 3' soundtrack. On 'Holosonic Rebellion', Brown Jr. uses placid synth pads to ground us, while adding drill-like hi-hat pats and impassioned, rebellious cries. It sounds as if we're being lowered into a writhing crowd, with obscured, backmasked voices screaming underneath rolling kicks and boiling noise. 'Jes' Grew' is even more pointed, chopping jazz horns all RP Boo-like against undulating throbs and bone-dry tom flurries.
There's a physicality to Brown Jr's Speaker Music material that's fully in focus here. He sounds as if he's bursting out of genre completely on 'Feenin', paralleling unhinged, oscillating synths with Ayler-style horns as his skittering beats fall into the background. And on 'Our Starship to Ociya Syndor' he makes a direct reference to Drexciya's 'Grava 4' cut 'Ociya Syndor' that told the story of the first Drexiyan. In Brown Jr's hands, the electro pulse is reduced to a purr, and he uses kosmische synths to stretch his treatise across eight minutes of electro-acoustic sustained tones and choral wails. It sets the scene for the climactic 'Astro-Black Consciousness', a blown-out, impulsively spiritual thrum of marching band trap and cloud-punching gospel spirals. There's nothing else quite like it.