Called a “black metal DUB record” by Aquarius, the debut album from Manchester’s Demdike Stare does indeed combine ultra-deep geological movements of dub tectonics and the brooding atmosphere of at least some black metal. The duo of Miles Whittaker (Pendle Coven / MLZ) and Sean Canty (whom the press sheet credits as “one of the city’s most recognizable vinyl collectors”) has been on constant rotation these last few weeks. For while an almost encyclopedic knowledge of world music, minimal house, the Modern Love back catalogue and, erm, witchcraft seems to have flown into this album, “Symbiosis” is certainly one of the best dance albums I’ve heard in quite a while. ‘Dance’ in the widest sense, of course.
I’d like to compare this album to Echospace’s “Coldest Season” from a few years back, as I think it’s almost of the same calibre. Using a much wider variety of sounds and playing with a lot more connotations, “Symbiosis” is arguably less dense but never loses focus as Miles and Canty are bulldozing their way through 11 tracks in 57 minutes. Tracks like “Trapped Dervish” and “Conjoined” feature African rhythms, wooden percussion, and oriental-sounding melodies, but it’s “Jannisary” where skewed ethno elements and urban dancefloor come together most intricately. Add the ambient synths of “Ghostly Hardware” and the nostalgic electronica of “Regressor” or “Nothing But the Night”, and you’ve got an eclectic album that somehow manages to spell out a vision. In style. 8/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (21 October, 2009)