Async Figure - It’s Pulling My Strings
(EP) Review

Writer: Afraa Al Hassan
Edited: Malak Al Suwaihel
Published: December 10th 2023

Artwork: Tianyi
Photography: Max Carnegie
Mastered: Enyang Urbiks

Sea Cucumber

Async Figure is a creative collaboration between MM and Suda from South London that has been instrumental in shaping both the traditional and deconstructed club music scenes there. This transformative journey unfolded after the closure of their label, Her Records, where the duo has steered the mainstream house and techno genres into uncharted territories from the early 2010s to 2017, garnering international acclaim in the process.

In their highly anticipated EP, It's Pulling My Strings, Async Figure’s sound delves into the dichotomized interplay between the material and virtual realms that inform postmodern living. The EP contemplates the notion of “the inevitable,” shedding light on our inability to evade the relentless march of advanced technology and its consequences. It's Pulling My Strings opens with 'Gen,' which sets a tone of darkness and tension, immersing the listener in an atmosphere of despair and unease with rhythmic patterns and recurring motifs.

The subsequent track 'Rover' maintains a similar evocative ambiance, incorporating industrial noise with added intensity with visuals by Tiyani that present a futuristic speculative that sheds light on the potential of things to come. The recurring sample, ‘It's Pulling My Strings," highlights the loss of control in this dystopian scenario, where sporadic flickering lights heighten a feeling of uncertainty that emphasizes the dynamic nature of its surroundings. By the end of the video, a complex relationship between human beings and technology is breached, delving into themes of control, cooperation, and potential conflict—visualized by soldier figurines strategically capturing a robotic dog by deployment of a military-grade netting.

With ‘Optimist Settings,’ the EP comes to a close and unveils a vision brimming with promise and aspiration that saturates every layer of its composition, transcending the track’s melodic scale with—despite the intimation of an ending—tones that hint at prospects of oncoming an dream, realized. This final track conveys an encouraging atmosphere, instilling the listener with a deep sense of hope that is forward-looking.

As we grapple with the gravity of these issues and sense the potential for an impending crisis driven by the ceaseless momentum of technological progress, there is an undeniable fascination with its swift pace, accompanied by moments of joy encountered along this rapid journey.

Throughout 'It's Pulling My Strings,' the listener contemplates whether they are mere passengers on a predetermined journey, whether it's possible to alter their course, or if disengaging from this path is ever conceivable. They are—and, equally, so is the listener—left with a grating introspection and a lulled sense of paranoia as we mull-over whether external influences or transcendent forces are subtly orchestrating our actions. We are left to ponder, alone, the proverbial philosophical question: “Does choice exist?”