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Michael McKinney understands the cultural importance of Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci.”
Angus Finlayson wants to slow down. The Berlin-based producer, better known as Minor Science, has been making electronic music for over a decade now, and in that time, he has developed a knack for tangling sounds at an increasingly rapid clip. After a childhood colored by piano lessons, time behind the violin, and a stint in a local jazz ensemble, the London native found his way towards composition, the recording studio, and, eventually, Berlin. For his first release, 2012’s Train Window Girl, he took vintage Scott Walker cuts and reworked them, submerging Walker’s vocals in a deep smog of synthesizers and zero-gravity electronics. It’s a fitting starting point for his discography: since then, his work has reckoned with umpteen musical idioms and twisted them into new forms.
After the release of Train Window Girl, Finlayson stretched into all sorts of territories: claustrophobic house music in 2014’s Noble Gas; barely-there techno courtesy of 2015’s Whities 004; everything-at-once kind-of-dubstep via 2017’s Whities 012; and Dadaist ambient-music disorientation on 2014’s Blowing Up the Workshop 32, a.k.a. Absent Friends Vol. I. (More on that last one later.) In his practice, Finlayson moves between styles with an unmissable deliberation, mixing up motifs in a way that belies a seemingly unending curiosity. With each new release, he builds a kaleidoscope of histories, giving vintage styles so many coats of paint that they’re nearly unrecognizable.
Finlayson largely works in dance music—whatever that means—but his music often begs for headphone listening, with details layered upon details until the whole thing sounds positively pointillistic. In 2020, after nearly a decade of soundtracking left-field dancefloors, he released Second Language, a club-night amp-buster that rockets between styles, modes, and approaches. Listening to it, you can practically hear him twisting knobs every which way, nurturing a carefully controlled explosion throughout. It’s a remarkable achievement, to be sure, but its stylistic reaches beg the question: now what?
Since then, Finlayson has answered that in two wildly different ways. One month before he released Second Language, he played at Bang Face, a critical festival for gut-busting hardcore and old-school rave music. That offers a window into one angle: in a series of can’t-miss DJ sets, he has underlined his love for big blends and chaotic hardcore, leaning hard into fast-and-messy dance music. This version of Minor Science is aimed squarely at the club-night lifers; it’s a vision of electronic music as an everything-at-once barrage. This coincided with the formation of STRIPE N CO, a cheeky alter ego with a decidedly Gremlins-esque approach to club music. It’s dance music as an exercise in audacity: even in a relatively lean discography, he’s reimagined Evanescence, Kylie Minogue, and “Auld Lang Syne” as hardcore classics.
But if you’re looking for something for the morning after, he’s got you covered, too. Finlayson has made a version of ambient music for years now, and while it may be a bit sludgier and more confrontational than you might expect from the style, it’s not exactly hardcore, either. Absent Friends Vol. III, his latest album as Minor Science, is a remarkable entry in a running series of sort-of ambient-music records: it is slow and richly textured, moving with a glacial patience but never settling down. You could connect it to all sorts of contemporary ambient-music producers—KMRU’s disorienting field-recording abstractions and Jake Muir’s bleary-eyed ambient-dub experimentalism both come to mind—but Finlayson is looking elsewhere. If anything, this is music inspired by the histories of spiritual jazz, dusty ECM records, and twentieth-century progressive electronics. In its own way, it feels deeply out of time. In slowing down just a bit, Finlayson has opened up entire universes.
Ahead of the release of Absent Friends Vol. III, we got a chance to connect with Finlayson, speaking on the influences behind his latest LP, how his creative process has shifted in the past few years, the power structures behind samples and bootlegs, and lots more.
(This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.)