If Paul Woolford’s Special Request project was a red carpet event, flanked by flashing bulbs and screaming public, then Akkord’s debut long player is the stealthy entrance through smokey alleyway and side door. The reveal of Mancunian pair Indigo and Synkro as the brains behind the Akkord project may have very well peeled away one layer of intrigue, but this has been deftly replaced through a PR campaign of mysterious 0161 phone numbers and QR codes leading to audio snippets for the inquisitive. This mingling of talents is much more than a ying and yang pairing of light and dark, for this album is most certainly predominantly dark; Indigo brings all things metallic, razor sharp edged and reinforced with iron, with Synkro’s contribution being that of silk and smooth, acting as glue between each steely shard.
As elusive as the producers in charge may be, the sonic template is equally so, dancing in the shadows between techno, dub and breaks, illustrated perfectly by the way “3dOS” skips from 4/4 to half-tempo to 6/8 before ripping back with techno intent. These skeletal uptempo moments form the core of the album; we have “Navigate”, already well received from the EP earlier in the year, which switches from a bassy breaks monster into a high octane techno workout, then the multi-textured distortion assault of “Conveyor”, plus the dizzying syncopated bass waltz of “Hex AD”. Far from being one dimensional, there are further moods on show; the slo-mo industrial assembly line intro “Torr Vale” gives way to the shamanic “Smoke Circle”, a classy one-two punch that sets you on your way in sublime style, with the menacing ambient drone of “Undertow” closing the album much as we began.
This is music to be hosted in once proud but now disused mills or to be absorbed in headphones while tentatively walking the pavements of sickly amber bathed suburban roads. Akkord carries the essence of sweat soaked brickwork and bare bones venues being shaken by speaker stacks. Houndstooth may have had snowballing success with Snow Ghosts and critical adoration through Special Request, yet their most undercover project to date might just be the one that grows the most in the face of the ravages of time.