Two Lone Swordsmen, Tiny Reminders
Things are coming apart at the scenes
By the time in their career that they recorded Tiny Reminders, lesser bands would have long since given up the ghost. But in 2000, a full decade after they burst upon the acid-house scene under different aliases, Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood were still reinventing themselves with every record. Their previous project, Sabres of Paradise, had flirted with various strains of acid, electro, techno and dub; by 1998's Stay Down, the Two Lone Swordsmen had turned inward, shedding any populist pretensions and digging into a murky set of ambient downtempo and underwater electro, balancing chilly electronics with warmer electro-acoustic timbres.
Tiny Reminders, from 2000, is faster and harder; the drums sound like they've been filed down with whetstones, and hi-hats poke into the mix like awls. The bass is pitched so low you barely hear it; tracks seem to float upon roiling tar pits, and all you can really discern about what lies below is that it's ominous as hell. The contrast between the high and low ends — a thousand points of light versus the inky void below — makes it hard to figure out which force is consuming the other, but the lurching syncopations and grumbling electric drones make it clear that the sound field is essentially unstable — that things are coming apart at the scenes.
In some ways, their approach recalls a grittier Autechre, and their steely electro owes much of its dystopian cast to Drexciya. Much of Tiny Reminders' mood and sonics anticipates the lumbering menace of dubstep, a decade or more hence. But ultimately, the album offers a world all its own, one you'll keep puzzling over long after Weatherall and Tenniswood have shape-shifted once again.