The self-titled A-side off the Prototype EP — by Helena Hauff and F#X’s project as Black Site — opens as though it had already been playing for hours. There is a hard, brutal kick at the base of the near 10-minute sprawl of a track, with scorching bleeps and side-chain brushes filling out the higher end. The A-side is as primal as it is calculated. I’ve always found the distance between a thinking producer and the ravenously unconscious audience to be fascinating, and these two artists, both of whom have made their careers in assaulting the dancefloor, are interested in expanding the aesthetic modes of the club, applying a more brainy and experimental approach to ensure that trance states are indeed achieved. Music like this makes audience members truly lose themselves. As “Prototype” builds towards its final moments, the track becomes increasingly engulfed by white noise and drones, the higher and lower ends collapsing into each other, before becoming a single waving tone.
B-side “N313P” is a lighter and slower affair, but the kick is no less staunch and overbearing, even as it is swallowed by the concussive crash of claps and a squishy, acidic 303. The track wavers around the kick, a stuttered rhythmic cymbal latching onto the tempo, as the 303 becomes wilder and glitchier. “N313P” eventual falters back, like the A-side drowning in reverberation, the stereo field seemingly pushed to the point of bursting: no sound left, only the high post-club frequency.
Prototype pulls from everywhere it can to ensure that it’s the club banger/dionysian experience that it needs to be. The tracks are just as Detroit (hyper-futuristic and sublime) as they are Berlin (gritty and dystopian). This culminative approach creates a significant vacuum of context. The dance floor is a free-for-all; anyone and everyone will feel it. These tracks are just as Cabaret Voltaire as they are Drexiciyan: obsidian and angular in form, gliding with a surely un-permissible elegance.
As a cumulative work, Prototype is an experiment with the physical: the aforementioned distance between the producer, who is mentally crunching numbers and psychoanalyzing the crowd, and the audience members, who are there to experience the club and the denizens of it. On the dancefloor, Helena Hauff and F#X as DJs must adopt an anthropological mindset, reading their audience’s body language in an attempt to simultaneously please and control. But the point of the producer shifts this; the producer is an ego-centrist, extracting every ounce of their mental capacity to exert their essence on an ostensible, conscious product within their respective environment. In this sense, Black Sites’ Prototype plays out like two artists trying to find a middle ground, to extract their artistic worth while remaining invisible puppeteers, to reflect their aesthetic backgrounds while simultaneously hoping to create something more.