Sandwell District 'Feed-Forward' 3xLP
SANDWELL DISTRICT have announced details of a brand new release of their era-defining 2010 album Feed-Forward - out on vinyl for the first time since its original pressing, and digitally for the first time on 28 July 2023 via The Point Of Departure Recording Company.
The original print of the album, described by RA a decade later as “the final transmission from a collective whose influence still colours music today”, was effectively a private press that sold out on impact - 3 days before Christmas, with no accompanying promotion – and, despite it changing hands for up to 4 figure sums, it has never been repressed.
Sandwell District - Peter Sutton (Female), David Sumner (Function), Juan Mendez (Silent Servant) and Karl O’Connor (Regis) - was a label, a collective, an impulse, an in-joke, a suicide mission, a gang, a point of view. An amphetamine-fuelled fever dream, a group psychosis, an out-of-hand piss-take which happened to reinvent techno in its own bleakly modernist image.
Growing out of the Downwards label that Sutton and O’Connor established in 1993, throughout the 2000s the collective had a powerful mystique. Its records sell and its reputation swells by word of mouth alone - and for a long time it revels in being faceless, opaque, impenetrable. After a move to Berlin, Sutton and O’Connor intensify their time in the studio, while Function is a resident and Regis and Silent Servant become regular guests at Berghain, giving the collective a key test-laboratory. Mendez meanwhile overhauls the visual identity of the label, giving Sandwell an outlaw style all its own - techno has never seen anything quite like it - and the music itself deepens and darkens as if to meet the challenge.
The first O’Connor hears about a Sandwell District album is when Sumner refers to it in an interview. He calls him up. “Dave, what are you talking about!? There is no album!”
“Now we have to make it, man.”
It is a huge task: to distil the essence of this sprawling project but also take it somewhere new. To seamlessly interweave the contributions of its four members, creating something which does justice to their ferocious club incarnation but which can also be listened to from start to finish: at home, in the car, under the covers with your eyes closed. They manage all this and more.
No previous Sandwell release can prepare you for Feed-Forward’s technical and emotional achievement. It is supple, sensuous and utterly widescreen. Driving, infinite-horizon techno - vectors of pure energy - slashed with concussive polyrhythms and draped in swooping strings and a haunted, melancholic musicality only glimpsed on the preceding 12”s, if it was there at all. Above all it is a powerful concentration of atmosphere, its morbid romanticism drawing subtly on influences from post-punk, industrial and the early ‘80s avant-garde and culminating in a breathtaking final third of eerie concrète and beatific synth sequences. Feed-Forward is one of the great, elegiac evocations of Berlin, minting the future but grieving and ghost-filled; the offspring of Bowie’s Low and Basic Channel.
Sandwell District continued for another year after the album’s release, before disbanding. Today that world, that vertiginous sense of emptiness and possibility, feels entirely vanished, irretrievable. An imaginary world that only Feed-Forward can give us access to. Its influence in the 2010s and beyond has been colossal, if not always duly credited; those reverberations are still being felt. And this timely reissue gives us occasion not only to celebrate Sandwell District as it was, but to ask what it might still be, what it might yet become.
- 140g black 12" vinyl
- Rigid slipcase, 2mm grey board w/ black lining + anti-scratch matt lamination
- 16 page stapled booklet, 150gsm matt art paper
- 12" outer sleeves, 3mm spine, 300gsm w-w board w/ matt machine varnish
- Black paper 12" inner sleeve
- Limited to 1000 copies worldwide
Catalogue number: PODR009LP
Label: Point of Departure