Paula Temple has been making and DJing electronic music for 20 years, but has only released her first full-length album, Edge of Everything, this year. In addition to her musical output, she is an inventor; in the early 2000s, she and Gerard Campbell developed the MXF8 — the name stands for MIDI crossfade, eight channels. It allowed DJs to be producers live, pumping up to eight tracks through the system and crossfading them as they went; they could build a track with components from other tracks right there in the booth. (A fuller/better explanation, along with a lot of other information about Temple’s creative philosophy and working methods, can be found in this superb Resident Advisor interview from 2016.)
Temple’s music has an otherworldly, foreboding feel. Swelling synth tones build like cosmic rays seeping into one’s cells as whispery, echoing, breath-like sounds create haunting accents, and the pounding techno rhythm abandons the expected thumping for a sound like someone knocking on the outside of a spaceship, or banging on the pipes in an attempt to lure the listener down to the basement. Her 2014 Deathvox EP is only three tracks in 17 minutes, but it’s an intense, almost exhausting journey.
Her Colonized EP, from 2013, is even more aggressive and harsh, in the same neighborhood as punishing tracks by artists like Relapso and Rødhåd. It features three new tracks — “Colonized,” “Cloned,” and “Decolonization” — and two remixes of the title piece by Perc. “Cloned” is particularly striking, as it features stuttering, staticky vocal samples that are little more than phonemes and electronically warped groans, and a booming rhythm that’s just unsteady enough to keep the listener permanently off balance. “Decolonization,” meanwhile, features a drum track that’s like a clawhammer banging on your skull.
Edge of Everything doesn’t seem designed for dancing; it seems like Temple wants to destroy the venues in which it’s played. It begins with an intro track, “Berlin,” that builds slowly, pulsing and humming like she’s testing the system, sending more and more power surging through until she’s sure it’s ready for the massive beat of “Joshua and Goliath.” Two versions of the piece — a “Techno Version” and a “Slow Version” — are heard back to back, and the effect is quite literally stunning. It’s like being bombarded and then seeing the rise over the rubble and destroyed buildings, even as subterranean explosions continue to detonate.
The album feels deeply dystopian, in a mournful and unromantic way. Tracks have titles like “Futures Betrayed,” “Raging Earth,” and “Post-Scarcity Anarchism.” When they build to a crescendo, it’s not because the rhythms have become more intense, or because elements have dropped away, it’s because the synths have become so dense and blaring that they’re like air raid sirens or fire alarms. Some tracks are almost unbearably dense on headphones; “Open the Other Eye” features a booming underwater bass pulse that’s enough to make you feel like your ears are going to pop. It’s like techno heard through a cinderblock wall. Pieces with more cosmic titles (“Quantum Unfolding,” “Dimension Jumping”) offer higher-frequency synth lines and less raw noise, though the beats are still crushingly heavy. This is brutally intense work, recommended to anyone interested in the extremes still achievable by genuinely creative artists within a seemingly limited genre — in this case, techno.
Stream Edge of Everything: