Dialectic from above Full. 3 begins with five minutes of primordial soup: undulating rhythms that feel like bubbling swamp water, dubby textures that make everything gassy, and effervescent synths that are constantly on the verge of forming something concrete. Compared to the opening tracks of the previous album, “A1” is remarkably quiet. Although all three volumes of the artist’s anonymous Peak Oil releases were sent to the Los Angeles label in one go, there is a certain aura that defines each LP. The first is effortlessly cool; Full. 2 is more subdued, even during moments of party-ready euphoria; and Full. 3– the most striking of the bunch – is quiet, introspective and impressively even.
You can imagine the previous two albums as bursts of perfume that transform space and self into something exuberant. Full. 3 looks more like when the juice has dried and all that’s left is the sediment that makes up the fougère: sparse, less flashy, but potent when you put in the effort. As with many songs on Full. 3, “A2” doesn’t immediately lead you to an intoxicating or festive space. Instead, his casual demeanor simply communicates his elements: aquatic swirls and percussive accents. They coalesce into a tantalizing mist, but Topdown Dialectic lets it exist as it is. Immersion takes place on the terms of the listener, and when one takes the plunge, the deep bass swells prove more palpable than they appear on the surface.
More than previous releases, Full. 3 tends to put noticeably slow tempos, limited dynamic range and negligible development to the fore. His very unobtrusiveness reminds me that these songs are the result of generative processes and this project thrives on mysticism – the person behind Topdown Dialectic is unknown, the songs are untitled and are all exactly five minutes long, and the physical copies are minimal , if not zero information. “B3” is all synth twists and meandering clacks, but it’s less anonymous than self-effacing. The smeared vocal sample is barely recognizable as such for much of the song, but when its humanity emerges from the darkness, it’s like catching a glimpse of a ghost for a brief, thrilling moment.
Reminds me of an interview with dub techno precursor Moritz von Oswald where he corrected an interviewer who called minimal techno cold. “It’s very warm, emotional and deep,” he said. “The more you listen to it, the more it touches you.” Full. 3 reminds you of that truth, and it challenges any idea that this kind of music might be too amorphous or straightforward. “A3” is one of the more kinetic pieces here, but it also feels aimless, like it doesn’t bind to its verve. Listen with a different mindset and there is more subtle drama: the periodic booms suggest a relentless urge to dance, despite standing still.
Full. 3 is most exciting when Topdown Dialectics strikes this balance between static and dynamic sensitivities. “A4” has an instant warmth reminiscent of Stephen Hitchell’s softer songs, or the blissful deep cuts found on Silent Season, but it’s sparse and less inclined to let atmosphere be the primary arbiter of mood. The synth pad isn’t overpowering, the grainy textures don’t hold like they do in Pole’s work, and the voices that appear are nothing more than vapor – just suggestion presence is always enough on these tracks. Even the spinning closer, “B4,” strives for antiseptic sci-fi shine, but it never lets that idea sink in completely. Of Full. 3, Topdown Dialectic proposes a tantalizing methodology: keeping everything in moderation leads to the feeling that everything is at full strength.
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