Longtime fans of Sheffield’s Central Processing Unit may well remember Annie Hall. When CPU dropped her 2016 EP Tenured Positions it felt like a perfect union of label and artist – the atmospheric take on classic electro that Annie Hall had presented in her previous releases for labels such as Semantica and Detroit Underground was very much in sync with the CPU sound. Sure enough, Tenured Positions was an instant hit with CPU heads old and new, and the record remains highly sought-after to this day.
Now, four years on from Tenured Positions, the Barcelona-based Annie Hall returns to CPSmith’s imprint with new EP Fum. Fum picks up where Tenured Positions left off. Snapping broken-beat electro grooves anchor Fum’s midsection of ‘D’un Altre Planeta’ and its title-track. ‘D’un Altre Planeta’ is the most lively cut on the EP – there is real bite to the drums here which recalls everything from B12 to Star Eyes to early-90s hardcore – while ‘Fum’s beats are more low-slung and come bolstered by an electro-funk-flavoured bassline. These two tracks are bookended by ‘Verd Mar’ and ‘Promeses De Fusta’, joints which straighten out their rhythms into more linear IDM-techno beats.
As she exhibited on Tenured Positions, one of the main strengths of Annie Hall’s style is the manner in which she layers up harmony, tone and texture. Reverb- and delay-drenched synths cascade across Annie Hall’s tracks and serve to render her music in vivid colour. The combination of evocative atmospherics and grounded, stable beatwork is a technique which Annie Hall has inherited from experimental techno luminaries of the past – Autechre, Mark Bell, The Orb – and also something that she shares with other CPU artists like Tryphème and Nadia Struiwigh.
Annie Hall takes this approach once again on Fum. A fair bit of the record’s soundworld tends towards science-fiction – from the whooshing pads of ‘Verd Mar’ through the zipping synths of ‘D’un Altre Planeta’ and on to the B-movie keys of ‘Promeses De Fusta’ there is certainly an alien quality to much of this EP. However, Annie Hall is also sure to ground her astral musings by introducing softer synth sounds like the twinkling chimes in the background of ‘Fum’ and the gently lilting lead-line of ‘Verd Mar’.
For fans of Central Processing Unit, Annie Hall’s Fum is the best of both worlds. Here we have a record which brings together the roughneck electro snap of CPU’s club weapons with the melodic and textural deftness of its IDM-oriented releases.
RIYL: LFO, Tryphème, André Bratten, Biosphere, Autechre, Nadia Struiwigh
A1 – Verd Mar
A2 – D’un Altre Planeta
B1 – Fum
B2 – Promeses De Fusta