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Henning Baer – Shatterproof / Manhigh – MANHIGH005 (EU2X12")
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As the head of Grounded Theory and MANHIGH, Henning Baer has since 2009 presented his downcast, experimental interpretation of modern electronic music to wide critical acclaim, establishing his forceful presence on Berlin’s scene with immaculate curatorial skills and equally imposing DJ abilities. His discography so far, concentrated on Adam X’s legendary Sonic Groove imprint and his own K209 and MANHIGH imprints, amongst others, keeps step with his formidable reputation and wide-ranging tastes, moving across the spectrum of hard-edged, aggressively modern techno. With ‘Shatterproof’, his long-germinating debut album for MANHIGH, he offers for the first time his unified vision in extended format, a varied exploration into the outer limits of the genre. At its centre a work of dark minimalism, he sets and maintains the pensive tone on ambient pieces like ‘Angel Dust’, ‘All Over’, and ‘MIL-STD 461’, which foreground the exploratory electronics that maintain their presence throughout. The corroded textures of the sounds, enveloped in decaying reverb, bring life to pieces like ‘Never Ending’ or ‘Bliss’, which sit between rhythmic interludes and the stricter dancefloor material found on the remainder of the album. Once he shifts into techno, he does it unremittingly, from the uptempo fury of ‘Code Buster’ and ‘Burning Chrome’, whose starkness only heighten the tension, to denser pieces like ‘Drama Sky’ or closer ‘Vermillion Red’, where the cavernous impacts of drum hits punch holes through beds of seesawing synthesizers. Shatterproof like its title suggests, Henning Baer’s first album unifies and strengthens the work of an artist whose legacy is already assured.