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Birmingham techno artist Anthony Child rapidly built a solid and, to a certain extent, innovative catalog of minimal dancefloor techno since his Surgeon releases first appeared in 1991. Compared favorably with Detroit original Jeff Mills from his earliest Downwards singles on forward, Child's tracks were a mainstay in the popular Motor City DJ's sets. Although Surgeon releases worked an increasing affectation for acid and trance, an economy of sound and basic hardness combined his and Mills' sound. A noted and popular DJ himself, Child grokked his skills from hip-hop and electro jocks ("Tour de France" was a staple of his DJ sets). He filled out his style with a driving toughness and appreciation for rapid cutting and flipping.
Surgeon's entry into production was also noteworthy; urged on by producer Mick Harris (Child was a fan of Harris' Scorn project), the former Napalm Death drummer locked Child in his tiny studio, imploring him to "go mad." The result, the self-titled debut EP, was released on Downwards, and was instantly hailed as some of the highest quality U.K. techno of its time. Releases for Soma, Blueprint, Ideal Trax, and the ultra-exclusive Tresor label followed, with the debut LP Basic Tonal Vocabulary appearing on Tresor in 1997. Balance followed in 1998, as did Force + Form in 1999. Equally influenced by early electro-pop innovators like Tomita and YMO, experimental groups like Can, Faust, and Suicide, and the tough grit of American electro and techno (Robert Hood, Hashim), Surgeon's mash-up was both straightforward and subtly experimental.
Throughout the following decade, Child remained active, if not quite as prolific. Dynamic Tension and Counterbalance, two labels he established during the late '90s, became the outlets for much of his solo production work — which was as stripped-down and challenging as ever — as well as his collaborations with Karl O'Connor as British Murder Boys. He remained an in-demand DJ and provided commercial mixes for Warp (2007's This Is for You S***s) and Fabric (2010's Fabric 53).
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'90s, '00s, '10s