Marionette is a vinyl-only label coming out of Toronto with a strong focus on carving out an aesthetic focused around idiosyncratic techno, immaculately pressed 180g vinyl and striking artwork. Their first release came in the shape of a four-tracker from Giegling-associate Deer entitled ‘String Theory‘, the record was defined by a loose, almost improvisational, sound located somewhere between leftfield electronica and minimal techno and made for an impressive calling card from the imprint.
Clearly, Marionette is run by the sort of people who take their time with their release schedule, because almost a year after ‘String Theory‘ hit the shelves, they’ve only just readied its follow-up. This time it’s from the underappreciated Hungarian producer Laurine Frost who has been steadily putting out unusual records for close to a decade. What’s more, if Deer’s record implicitly announced the label’s aims, Frost is less coy.
First track ‘Marionette Manifesto‘ is a powerful statement of intent. Lurching percussion, mis-shapen loops and the occasional eruption of what sounds like a keyboard being played underwater accompany murky bass patterns and the persistent tumble of tom-tom drums. There’s a tripped-out jazz sensibility to the thing, yet thanks largely to the drum work, it has a togetherness that means it’s not too out there to get dancing to.
Joining it on the A-side is ‘Virtue‘, the musical equivalent of a black coffee with an extra shot. An anxious bassline jitters alongside pointillist snares and paranoid percussion that is almost cinematic in the way it builds and builds and builds. It’s the sort of thing that comes on a bit strong for home listening, but at the right moment in a DJ set could be explosive.
The 11-minute long ‘Viburnum Opulus‘ takes up the B-side. Sharing the Latin name for the Guelder Rose or Crampbark, whose bright red fruit is toxic if ingested, the track captures some of the aural hallucinations you might hear if you pop a couple of its berries. With soft drums rolling in the background, the track is daubed with gurgling electronics and oddball samples crossing from one speaker to the other, working to create a bricolage of ever-returning loops and unpredictable sounds, before taking a truly unexpected turn into a choral conclusion that will be either genius or a step-to-far depending on your tastes.
For me, it only confirms that Frost is a producer with an ear for unusual compositions and Marionette a platform for those with ambitious vision. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another year until we hear what Marionette have for us next.
A Fading Virtue By Passing Time is out now on Marionette, order a vinyl copy from Clone.
A1. Marionette Manifesto
B1. Viburnum Opulus