A combinated efforts of 4×4 producers Reset Robot, Jon Gurd, and Tom Powell, Mister Woo is a more instrumentally-based project that takes techno and house as starting points much as New Order did. Elements of New Order and scuzzy Bristolian trip-hop at its most dispondent and synthetic permeate the entirety of the “Black Eyes” EP; from Powell’s oblique Bernard Sumner-isms to the caustic feedback slo-mo loops of “Divy”. Mister Woo’s debut is a solid entry in Derelicht‘s slowly expanding discography from three established producers looking to stretch into a more “live” setting and the results are laid back, unsettling proto-techno.
“Black Eyes” kicks us off with in the pocket guitar lines and a swirly, flanged out vocalisms. Tom Powell’s oblique lyrics match the best of what New Order’s Bernard Sumner has intoned before it. Interestingly, “Black Eyes” sounds like two jams mashed together as mid-way the track goes into overdrive with crisp hip-hop breaks, Steve Reich organ repetitions, and glitchy digital ghosts until Powell returns with his descending melodic lyrics.
While the influence of New Order runs strong, the Bristolian DNA of trip-hop influences the larger portion of the EP in the forms of “Afterlife” and “Divy”. Both bring to mind, Mezzanine-era Massive Attack in their synthetic, beautifully discordant and otherworldly textures. “Afterlife” grinds with backwards processed guitar, spewing caustic feedback over everything. The drum beat is simple and plodding as MA’s “Angel” was. Midway through, an equally distorted and fractured melodic line emerges amongst the rubble and ash, a dash of color amongst rust. Meanwhile “Divy” throbs with dingy bass pulses, perc flourishes sampled off an old record found in some basement and digital ephemera that permeates the entire thing. Powell’s voice is once again treated, sampled into the fabric of “Divy” and broken down into a simple utterance, devoid of meaning.
The last track features the brilliantly titled “Alan Fitzpatrick’s Loft Rocker” refix of “Black Eyes”. It’s shuddering heartbeat and komische star and navel gazing synth work arpeggiates with Teutonic efficiency and wonder. Continually building until matter itself collapses, that is until the cathedral vocals of Powell are tessellated into a thousand multi-forms of Tibetan chanting.