PRY / UNION
The Midlands may not seem like the most obvious birthplace for a left-leaning techno imprint, but here, rising from the shadows comes UNION, geared towards releasing experimental, electronic constructions, inspired by the mundane and the mechanical.
Surely soon to be a favourite for fans of dark, underground obscurities, co-founders Pry and Royal Sun seek to pioneer a new way as they explore the unknown, and unfold to their public the deepest mysteries of their raw, gritty techno. The inaugural release on UNION, ‘UN-001’, comes from Pry himself.
UNION’S left-leaning sound is personified by distinctly raw production elements and an abrasive edge. The young label describes itself as being inspired by the factory – the first release ‘Un-001’ is a statement of intent, providing hazy, spaced-out techno, strongly evocative of the mechanical and the industrial. While the motivations and inspirations may be the day-to-day and the mundane, the final product is anything but commonplace. ‘UN-001’ comprises tracks SHIFT LOOP, NIL MOVEMENT, FLAT LAPPING and OFFSET CYCLE.
Each crackles and sparks with nervous power, making use of modular effects, cosmic analogue sounds and an intense heartbeat. Lead track SHIFT LOOP is already available on Soundcloud. Having previously collaborated to great effect on the track ‘Lung Dart - Healthy Functional Tissue’, Pry and Royal Sun join forces once more. This may conceivably be the ‘union’ suggested by the imprint’s name. Co-founder Pry foresees in running the label a different form of challenge to that of creating music together, but seems confident of further success.“
Personally, I feel the running of a label can be way easier than making music with someone,” he says. “I really, really struggle to tell someone that what they've done is shit, or to be able to productively and efficiently critique it, and when working as a duo, this is such a crucial thing to be able to do. Probably because I feel bad about slating their creative output, even if what they've made is something they’d consider ‘throw away’ or whatever. When I’m removed from that process, I feel far more comfortable.”
Label artwork is created by renowned designer Alex McCullough. McCullough’s work is bright and optimistic, making liberal use of colour, while remaining recognisably industrial. Pry elucidates some of the concepts behind the artwork; “when we first approached Alex at the idea stage of the label, we emphasised we wanted an abundance of colour. The whole monochrome techno idea has become so visually boring; we really wanted to stray away from it, unless it was totally contrasting to the music. I’m hugely influenced visually by the detail and beauty in manufacturing environments (being exposed to them so much daily), and this was something that myself, Royal Sun and Alex wanted to portray, but with more ambiguity and contrast.”
The artwork for Un-001 certainly pertains to this theme of mechanised manufacture, with various workmen depicted, some wearing hard hats. Allied with the striking use of garish red, the powerful and evocative image of mechanical industry created retains a strong connection with a very human exertion. Pry outlines the drive behind the foundation of the label, which perhaps mirrors the endeavour of those in the manufacturing industry by whom he is so inspired. He emphasises a desire for creative control over his own output, suggesting of releasing music that, “doing it ourselves gives us full freedom to sonically and visually do whatever we want. This way also gives us more of a chance to release things in a more conjunct manner timing-wise to what type of stuff we’re currently making, rather than being shoved to the end of someone else’s two-year release schedule.”
This more cohesive and focused approach to the running of UNION, allied with creative autonomy, allows Pry to most fully explore that concept driving both the label and Un-001: the relationship between man and machine. This refers both to the process by which he makes music, and to that which inspires him to compose. Explaining his own creative process, he says “I work mainly from a hardware point of view. I typically create several parameters within my synthesiser; functions and constraints that are numerically odd and not specifically synced to a clock, which can then develop gradually and/or abruptly without much further human input. From Un-001, the tracks ‘Nil Movement’ and ‘Offset Cycle’ are the best examples of this.” This alliance of the human and the mechanical add an abrasive edge to the EP, evoking conflicting images of both the technological antinatural and organic growth.
Pry places his own work in the context of a period of great technological innovation, for both music and other spheres of life. “I’m no Elon Musk, but the further the merging of flesh and technology, musically (as terrifying and weird as it may be) could really make some insane stuff, sounds specifically made with an acute pathway into emotional excitation. I read an RA interview with Autechre a while ago where the interviewer was joking about how we could maybe do with an algorithmic John Peel to sift through the vast noise of music around at the moment, which made me laugh a lot. Musically though, the advances in synthesis and specifically, the integration of DSP with analogue equipment is massively extending the range and ease of sonic manipulation. I’ll leave it in the very capable hands of the likes of Olivier Gillet (Mutable Instruments) to continue this.”
The next year will be busy but exciting for UNION. Pry says “we have two records lined up for next year so far. Royal Sun’s debut and then a live/improv collaborative project between both Royal Sun, myself and our close friends Lung Dart. The project is called ‘Essien Sachs’.” SHIFT LOOP will be available to buy on vinyl from 08/12/2017, with digital to follow.