Embrace the Dark, Minimalist Wizardry of Deardrums’ ‘Aquila’

Photo Credit: 2MR/Captured Tracks.
Photo Credit: 2MR/Captured Tracks.

2MR, the new label formed by Mike Simonetti and Captured Tracks mastermind Mike Sniper, in April kicked off its existence with the release of Simonetti’s engaging Pale Blue debut LP, The Past We Leave Behind. And now on June 30 it will give us something intensely different.

One of the label’s first 12-inch releases is Aquila, the three-track debut from Deardrums, an Italian duo composed of famed DJ Bottin (who you might know from his releases on Simonetti’s old labels Italians Do It Better and Perseo) and Italian percussionist Leo di Angilla.

From what I’ve read, on Aquila Bottin and di Angilla perform all of the parts of each song on analogue drum synthesizers, often playing everything live by hand. That infuses it with a stark minimalism and potent humanity that doesn’t always shine through, and isn’t always appropriate, in most modern electronic music.

Musically, their approach yields some great results. It’s like house but performed in some mythological club in pre-Colombian America, or perhaps pre-colonial Africa. It could really be anywhere in which essential life rituals are dictated by the beat of drums, often peacefully, before 15th Century Europeans got violently antsy.

The title track is the most straight-forward dance cut, in which Bottin gets as close as he’ll get on the EP to the Italo sound he showed us on releases like 2009’s Italians 12-inch No Static, and his Horror Disco and Punica Fades LPs (that latter of which featured Visage’s Steve Strange).

By the time “Mayan Machine” hits, we’re looking at the height of a dark, tribal minimalism that evokes the most pronounced aspects of the production of Martin Hannett, the unrest of Skinny Puppy, and how I imagine Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration would have turned out if they spent time at Chicago warehouse parties in the 80s. There’s a throbbing back bone on this track that seems to be holding together all the tension and frenzy of the synthesizers.

The closer is a haunting minimalist piece called “Rhythm Comp.” The track, understandably, features its dusty analogue drums prominently, with only the ethereal specter of synths hiding in the background, slowly ascending into our headspace until it’s all giving us a delicate scream that lasts a short amount of time before everything stops.

When I interviewed Simonetti in April, just before the Pale Blue record came out, he talked up Deardrums and 2MR in general. Given his track record with labels Troubleman Unlimited, Italians, Perseo, and New Jersey, I was quite obviously excited. However, I had no idea how good the work was that 2MR’s artists had in store.

Aquila and techno group DUST’s new 12-inch are available to buy on 2MR’s site. You can also preview the Aquila EP below:

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