Tommy Four Seven Veer

[47; 2019]

Styles: Berlin
Others: Oscar Mulero, Silent Servant, Kangding Ray, Raime

In between Tommy Four Seven’s first album, Primate, and his second, Veer, the British producer wrote “OX1,” a track featured in Netflix’s recent animated sci-fi anthology Love, Sex and Robots. The song soundtracks the surreal episode “The Witness,” specifically during a long chase where a killer pursues a woman. When the woman makes a narrow escape into a cab, “OX1” clarifies underneath as an element of the vacant metropolis. As she reaches her destination, the music grows into full menace from its true source, a strip club that could double as a debaucherous rave.

Tommy’s sound has always thrived in the context of these bleak cityscapes and claustrophobic clubs, and they inform the sound of Veer as well. But here, Tommy Four Seven delves further into his sound design approach to composition, producing tighter, more daring results than on Primate. His gnarled industrial atmospheres add a chilling thrust to his Berlin sound, acting as warped machine homages that blend Steffi with Franck Vigroux.

One of the most successful of this pack is opener “Dead Ocean,” refreshing for its stark percussion that taunts with anticipation of a heavier beat. It materializes on the next track, “Radius,” where a pulsating synth signals its arrival and cavorts along a driving rhythm, evoking a post-apocalyptic tableau. “2084” ratchets up the tempo with vigorous kicks sparring with dissonant, noisy blasts, while “Colony,” a strong finish, anchors the album in the doomsday vibe most familiar with the DJ and his 47 label roster.

There’s more on Veer than standard club fare, however. Tommy incorporates garbled lyrics into several tracks, as in the distorted “Virus” and “Feed,” introducing needed human elements (no matter how vague) while injecting even more harshness into already intense tracks. “X Threat” takes this to its extreme; hardly a second passes without a burst of grating noise amid sparse notes of faraway electronics. As if the album itself was at risk of exhaustion, song structure erodes in the first half of “Protocol 9” until the track is pulled from the brink by a martial beat and a crackling upper range.

The album title nods to Tommy’s desire to push toward more unorthodox spaces. And Tommy is certainly no stranger to veering off course, as illustrated by his two exemplary releases as one half of These Hidden Hands (a side project with Shards’ James Kronier). While Tommy hasn’t abandoned the surging techno that has become his stock in trade, Veer’s experiments point to where he may be heading next. Exciting places, indeed.

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