There's a humbly, elegantly generic feel to the sleeve of a vinyl test pressing, which typically says "TEST PRESSING" in bold letters across the top, followed by a brief note from the manufacturing plant instructing the customer — the label putting out the record, that is — to check for imperfections before signing off on the final product. The occult-minded ambient industrialists Demdike Stare pay tribute to that familiar (to label heads and DJs, anyway), minimalist design with the sleeve of the first 12-inch in a new series, appropriately named Testpressing, on Manchester's Modern Love label (home to Andy Stott's acclaimed 2012 album, Luxury Problems).
Listeners expecting smoky, ethereal drones along the lines of the duo's 2012 album Elemental may be surprised; Demdike Stare have never sounded ruder. On the A-side, "Collision" starts off with beatless rumbling and a hard, flanged buzz and gradually assumes its full form as a dangerously top-heavy mess of splintered breakbeats and shards of white noise. Not since Christoph De Babalon's 1997 DHR release If You're Into It, I'm Out of It have dark ambient and jungle made such a hellishly compelling couple. The B-side's "Misappropriation" is no less menacing, opening with what sounds like knives being sharpened slowly and deliberately, or perhaps cornered feral creatures pawing at floorboards. But it's sexier, with a shuffling, tribal-industrial frug that falls somewhere between Shackleton and Cut Hands, hammering out an almost tropical shimmy on rusted pipes and broken glass.
Unlike actual test pressings, the Testpressing series is aimed at the collector market, meaning clear vinyl, a nifty-looking inner info sheet, and, naturally, limited pressings. Fans would be wise to act now, or spend way too much on a drunken Discogs binge several rueful months down the line. Listen to both tracks in full below.