With the release of this year’s Hackney Parrot, Ed Russell’s Tessela alias went from intriguing newcomer to blazing star in the space of a single release. The song in question rode the crest of the current hardcore revival, capturing all the scene’s euphoria and grit in a single outing, and it still stands as one of the year’s very best singles. It’s certainly a hard act to follow, but Russell’s signing to venerable techno institution R&S boded well, and with Nancy’s Pantry he delivers the perfect follow-up, taking everything which made Hackney Parrot resonate into bold, unpredictable territory.
The three tracks that make up his new EP are cut from the same cloth: rave synths, crushed technoid drums laid out in staccato patterns, and distorted machine burn. The results are three hardcore / techno workouts that fuse UK music’s past and future with blistering effervescence. Nancy’s Pantry builds with the cluttered percussion wryly indicated by the title, explosively settling into a stop-start roller hewn from chopped breaks and squashed kicks. The drum pattern bursts from the speakers with noisy abandon, giving way to mechanical tones reminiscent of 2562 and, later, glittering chords. Final cut Gateway is just as destructive, whirring patiently over insistent hi-hats and surgical break cuts, as lethal bass hits and the ghosts of divas past ring out over the percussive wasteland.
Each cut here is a stunner, lethal in a club context, but it’s on middle tune Horizon where Tessela offers up Parrot’s true successor. The track occupies three distinct movements, each as powerful as the last. Searing rave melodies build to a euphoric fever pitch before dropping away, leaving only a disjointed drum pattern and maniacally looped vocal cuts. Finally after two and a half minutes it lets go, the drums and synths rolling out recklessly, as high-frequency atmospherics do their best to ramp body temperatures even higher. Tessela’s latest is a no-brainer, a wild hat-trick cementing Russell’s position at the forefront of techno’s hardcore revolution.