Sandwell District’s ‘Feed-Forward’ Debut LP Out Now

Tomorrow marks the release date of Sandwell District‘s much-anticipated first album entitled Feed-Forward. The 9 track album will be available on CD and also as a (limited) double vinyl package that will also come with a 7” and a printed fanzine from Juan Mendez. The album was originally slated for November release but then got delayed until December 20. At least two shops online (Halcyon and Bleep) are stocking the album. This LP will be the first album project that Sandwell District has created and comes 8 years after the rumored beginnings of the collective – hence the excitement amongst fans to get their hands on a copy. Early reports say that the album retains the same dark, metallic, hypnotic and complex feelings as the previous Sandwell singles but it also has enough depth and variation to work as an album format.  While we wait for our copy to arrive we have a video link from Culture Box that features an interview with producers/DJ’s Regis and Function (who are both part of Sandwell District) discussing the history, sounds and philosophy that influenced this interesting collective of artists.

If you haven’t heard of Sandwell District yet, it’s probably not your fault. The series of record releases that started appearing in 2002 had no advertising, no mailing address, no phone number and no website. Just a stamp with the name and sometimes some lo-fi artwork to accompany the dark, steely and hypnotic music. Sandwell District was never meant to to be discovered easily. The mysterious packagings of dark, dubby and metallic techno record were hypnotic rituals that touched people who felt they understood this refined sound and minimalist presentation.

Sandwell District mix Resident Advisor Podcast by minimalist86

There is, of course, a method to the magic behind this project. The refined sound of the Sandwell District collective comes from four of the world’s best techno producers: David Sumner (Function), Juan Mendez (Silent Servant) and Karl O’Connor (Regis) and Peter Sutton (Female) create most of what Sandwell District publishes. While it seems that O’Connor had a hand in organizing the first brainstorms he credits Sumner with the refinement of the music and sticking to a very specific sound. Juan Mendez designs all the artwork and runs the Where Next? blog which seems to be an inspiration builder for ideas and images. O’Connor on Juan Mendez’s artwork and design for the label:

“Juan Mendez suggested we should make a record to accompany the Where Next fanzine he was doing and we all found the idea appealing: buy a fanzine get a free comp. I think we’ve been influenced by his artwork so I guess [the music] will have a very heavy, hypnotic theme.

The sounds these producers have released together are similar in form to records on O’Connor’s Downwards label but also give a nod to labels like Basic Channel and Factory Records in style and presentation. Each release has seen different combinations of the these four producers aiming towards a hypnotic combination of dub and techno that have consistently gotten deeper and weirder and cooler. The tracks fall around the 126 bpm range and bring a dub drone of bleepy, groovy techno that remains purist in form but flirts with distant ska rhythms and catchy percussion.

Sandwell District Live @ Planet Rose, Nijmegen – 14-02-2009 by R_co

On a musical level I have enjoyed the records from these four producers and find myself falling into the grooves between basslines and bleeps. I love this sonic space. It’s a little dissonant and not everyone is feeling it but it seems to appeal directly to the body, bypassing critical thought pulling me into the groove. On a philosophical level Sandwell District are showing us (by example) how to make art for the sake of art. In a time where everything that is produced/sold in the world is becoming a product of marketing, it feels refreshing to find a sound that resonates with so many yet is advertised to none.

Sandwell District / Feed-Forward  / Track list

A1. Immolare (First)
A2. Immolare (Second)
A3. Immolare (Third)
B1. Grey Cut Out
B2. Hunting Lodge
C1. Falling The Same Way
C2. Svar
D1. Double Day
D2. Speed + Sound (Endless)

Limited bonus 7″ tracklist:

A1. Readymade – 1
B1. Readymade – 2

Michael Walsh is an audio/visual artist and journalist living in Los Angeles. Read more of his work at soundsdefygravity.com

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