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Nov202010

Hardfloor - Two Guys, Three Boxes

HARDFLOOR - TWO GUYS, THREE BOXES

Hardfloor

How much acid can you handle? Some ravers only need a single hit; others might only be happy with a handful of liquid. Now, how much acid techno can you handle? If you’re looking for a heavy dose, look no further than Hardfloor’s new full-length album, Two Guys Three Boxes.

Hardfloor, the German duo of Oliver Bodzio and Ramon Zenker, have been in the techno scene for two decades, abusing countless Roland TB-303 bass synthesizers to create an aesthetic focused on the seemingly endless possibilities that lay within them. If you are looking for something fresh and forward-thinking though, you probably won’t find it here. Indeed, according to the promotional preview accompanying the album, “the sound remains the same” as the group is “precisely true to the form they invented and perfected”… so, get ready for a lot of acid. Over the course of 80 minutes and 11 tracks, there’s nothing new, but it does carries a certain charm. That first reveals itself upon seeing the album artwork, which features a happy collection of robots, wires, and music-making machines.

Two Guys Three Boxes jumps onto the dance floor with the eponymous first track. A chorus of slowly evolving acid riffs, jackin’ percussion, the formulaic but still climactic build-ups and breakdowns… these are the necessary (and almost the only) traits to the Hardfloor sound. Things get a bit deeper with “One Flew Over the Silverbox,” where swirling delay effects give the track an air of anxious desperation. Later, “The Return of the Analog Multichrist” creates a polyrhythmic storm of 303 action and pushes itself into your ears for almost 9 minutes.

Sometimes, though, things are better with less acid, so it is no coincidence that two of the more unique-sounding tracks feature the production assistance of E.R.P., the electro-oriented alias of Gerard Hanson aka Convextion. His impact on Hardfloor’s sound design should be instantly recognizable to those who know his material. “4th Dimension of the 5th Ward” relies on gorgeous synths shading a series of stabbing riffs and a chunky bassline. “You Know the Score” is another highlight. Slower and more restrained than most of the album’s other tracks, the focus is on the bass-heavy breakbeat rhythm and delicate sustained tones, with knots of tweaked riffs rising into play but never fully taking over.

The album ends with the deep and patient “Heavy on Wire,” one long buildup with more stomping beats and a sinister bassline that hides a background melody, curiously ethereal when first introduced. It takes its time to slowly rise to the front of the mix, tightening up, and finally exploding into a mess of acid one last time before the final fade-out.

Overall, the decision to include E.R.P. as a guest producer turns out to be a good one, as it provides some variety that would otherwise be hard to find throughout Two Guys Three Boxes. Without the E.R.P. contribution, this album would be nothing more than a workout in the capabilities of that famous bass synthesizer. Not that that’s a bad thing: even if sticking to the formula is the name of the game, at least the album is held together by a bouncy sense of enthusiasm and charisma. So maybe the final question is: Can you handle this much acid?

Brian Kolada

 

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