Led Er Est’s Shawn O’Sullivan Delivers State-of-the-Art Techno, Brooklyn Style
Forthcoming 'Security' EP on Brooklyn's the Corner proves there's strength in numbers
The Corner, a fledgling electronic-music label from Brooklyn, keeps things simple. It doesn’t do press releases. It doesn’t do digital retail. It doesn’t even do SoundCloud previews. (The fact that we’ve got something to listen to here is thanks entirely to Halcyon, the Brooklyn record store that distributes the Corner’s releases.)
All of that can sound precious, especially in the era of limited-edition, marbled-wax vanity projects, analog fetishism run rampant, and pseudonyms so shadowy they have their own anonymous pseudonyms. But the Corner, run by Anthony Parasole, who also has a hand in Levon Vincent’s Deconstruct Music, is a testament to the positive connotations of the term “boutique label.” Its record sleeves — just folded sheets of card stock, really — are as tactile as they are visual. The sound, a product of pure hardware routed through analog mixing desks, is warm enough to heat your apartment on a cold day, provided you’ve got a good enough pair of speakers. It may be hard to get your hands on the label’s releases, but the payoff is worth it. When it comes to forward-thinking techno, something of an endangered species right now, no one is putting out better music. (And it’s not just techno, either: The label’s first release paired a dubby, corkscrewing workout from DJ Qu with a bona fide boom-bap throwback from Nor’Easter, neatly connecting New York’s subterranean techno scene with its hip-hop roots.)
The Corner’s third release comes from Shawn O’Sullivan, a member of Sacred Bones’ Led Er Est, and it’s right in line with the label’s hand-forged aesthetic. “Security,” the A-side cut, is seething techno that foregoes not just melody but almost any kind of tonal center at all. It’s quick-stepping, but the long arc of its development creates an agonizing sense of tension as it chugs ahead. Echoes of Berlin’s Ben Klock and Basic Channel are audible, but there’s really no other place this music could come from but the Corner’s, well, corner — the New York-centric techno scene best captured, so far, on Levon Vincent’s Fabric 63 mix. “Courier,” co-produced with Mutant Beat Dance’s Beau Wanzer, is even tougher, a sullen, 135-BPM maelstrom of radiator hiss and broken springs — as ungentrified as techno gets, no matter what’s happening outside the studio windows. O’Sullivan’s “Crisis,” meanwhile, plunges into a bottomless pit and just keeps going. It’s a perfect metaphor for what truly underground techno sounds like right now.
Listen to samples of all three tracks below; to hear them in all your glory, you’ll need to get your hands on the wax, which is out now. If you were looking for an excuse to invest in new home audio components, this is it.