Review: Graham Dunning – Tentation (White Denim, Sep 2)

When most people think of techno music, it’s the four-on-the-floor bass, dance-oriented, rave type techno — which, don’t get me wrong, is still pretty awesome. But artists like Graham Dunning show that the genre can be far more nuanced, pushing the boundaries of this hypnotic, repetitive type of electronic dance music. On Tentation, the rhythms Dunning creates using his mysterious “mechanical techno machine” are so minimal, almost insubstantial; he strips down techno to its barest form, crafting patient pieces that easily persist throughout their extended durations. The music is so bare that Dunning’s processes and live, improvisational decisions are perceptible, and it’s this natural development of the progressions and variations that makes Tentation so engaging despite its unapologetic sparseness. Ragged tape loops, delay pedal feedback manipulations, and bass glitches are the subtle flavors that interact with the incessant percussion, allowing for natural evolution that is usually only found in music much less reliant on rhythm.