Lory D – Sounds Never Seen

3 out of 5

Label: Rephlex

Produced by: Lory D

Towards the mid 2000s, as the US / UK music market was changing – shifting away from the physical, and more towards a very reactive, on-demand industry (even moreso than it always has been…) – famed electro label Rephlex seemed to take a step back from the “IDM” for which they’d become known, and refocus on the more barebones, deconstructed (and often harsh!) club music with which many of its stalwart techno provocateurs started in this biz, a decade or so past at that point. Album art became very stripped down; the presentation of the music – fittingly – became pretty take-it-as-it-comes, with little sense of marketing or identity. I found releases during this era to be a bit polarizing as a result, though that was maybe kind of the point.

Lory D’s Sounds Never Seen comp – collection some of the Italian artist’s singles, I believe – seemed almost like a mission statement for this era, and also was packaged under a rather ironic name (setting aside the sensorial mismatch), given that its sounds very much had been heard: as cuts from early 00s fellow Rephlex IDMers on the openers; classic, crass house in its mid-section bangers; and some Aphex-twinged ambience on penultimate ‘No Escape’; as though Lory was tasked with showing off a summary version of what the label was truly about. In part, this does rob the set of an identity to latch on to (also a common affect of singles compilations admittedly), but it’s also baked in to Lory’s approach, which is catchy, but rather showy, and surface-level – an “example” of sounds as opposed to some inspired version of the same.

These are pretty prime examples, especially the opening and closing beat-based cuts, and T.T.’s abstracted electronics, but the BPM stereo-shaking tracks in the middle are really more for the club kids – very repetitive; very raw. To my ears, this stuff loses value after a couple bars, and I start to tune the album out, but for those who maybe felt like Rephlex had been playing softball at this point, these might’ve been a necessary pick-me-up.