Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s

How to stop time: people talk a lot about the imperceptible shifts of detail in ultra-minimal techno tracks, but I don’t think any listener truly notices them until after playback. That would imply a sense of focus which the music abolishes: listening to Porter Ricks, what you’re aware of, always, is the loops next to each other and identical, not minutes apart and different. Repetetive activity is as oddly comforting as it is numbing, it frees your mind by taking it to the edge of immobility.

Repetition’s a strange thing to write about: done right it’s revelatory, done wrong it’s water torture. The trick appears to be to skirt as near to the edge of actual lock-groove repetition as you can without getting there. Porter Ricks will only rarely do anything as vulgar as change rhythm or tempo: once the basic elements of each numbered “Redundance” track are introduced, they prefer just to play with weight, pulling parts back and forward in the mix to subtly lead the dazed listener around their rhythmazes. “Redundance 3” is typical, its muted production-line bass and beats coccooning the listener while quicksilver zig-zags of rhythm dart up to the ear and then recede as swiftly, like bleached-white deep-sea fish at bathysphere windows.

I’ve picked the epic “Redundance” single-pack not because of any feel-the-width reason but because it caught Porter Ricks on an exciting cusp, introducing sly synopated elements into their underwater zen dub. The result, on the magnificent “Redundance 5”, is stylish car-factory swing, Plutonian Astaires in top hats and tails tapping and softly shuffling through great grey vistas of pulse and clang. The most boring claim in electronic music is that a record is making the genre ‘human’ – which usually means slapping some horrific slow synth slush over the top of mock-funky beats – but paradoxically “Redundance” remains one of the warmest, most comforting techno records I own.