Dorian Gray :: Letters From Ice EP (Self-Released)

Letters From Ice is mostly dark by nature, with spells of heavy drones and intense rhythmic sequences—and the pace of the EP makes it feel relatively accessible to a less techno inclined audience.

Dorian Gray :: Letters From Ice EP (independent)

“Wait… you don’t know about Ken Karter?” This was Moreno Mariotti’s (Dorian Gray’s) first question to me when I met him at the Krake festival last year. I was writing up my notes for the night and as Karter was warming up the audience I had a faint idea of who he was and what he was about. Really, in Mariotti’s own emphatic way, he meant to say, “Let me tell you all about him!”. Mariotti is an infectious character, full of knowledge on the Berlin dub & techno scene, and aims to transfer that knowledge to wisdom by crafting his own techno laced dub on each of his releases.

It’s no coincidence I met Mariotti at Karter’s set in Berlin. Ken Karter is after all an excellent starting point when comparing Dorian Gray’s Letters From Ice. He’s clearly fond of his fellow Italians work. Both Karter and Grays styles are rhythmically focused, minimal in their production and intricate in percussive power. There is a tribal quality to Gray’s sound and it’s easy to focus on individual percussive sequences and chopping samples so much that you loose track of time, and become close to ‘spaced’ out, slipping in and out of hypnotism as you do so. It’s a testament to how effective Gray’s work is that you can zone out and ‘feel’ an energy from his productions—which is the name of the game with this particular style of techno-dub (think of the euphoria a festival audience experiences as a DJ has their track develop, undevelop, climax, crash and so on).

Track two on Letters From Ice, “Iceberg Part 2,” hints of Deadbeat’s “Berghain Jack” in its ritualistic tribal pounding. “The Polar Night” is an intense rhythmical tune, yet graced with ambient noises across the stereo field. The cymbals on this track sound is if they have been stretched and reversed to make the tune feel breezy against the backdrop of energetic techno. “Arctic Dream” has a meditative quality about it – a synth appears to reverse throughout the mix on top of a thudding kick drum. This is then layered with soft synth pads and briefly, the track becomes loungey and warm. Here is a moment in the EP which demonstrates a quality rarely found in this style of techno – that Gray is able to merge two styles in electronica so comfortably together. These styles being the cold, industrial throb of ‘ambient dub’ and the warmth of coffee drinking ‘lounge’.

What’s striking when meeting this producer in person is his intensity and passion for electronic music. Yet his music reflects something deeper—an understanding and great awareness of the genre he’s operating in. Letters From Ice is mostly dark by nature, with spells of heavy drones and intense rhythmic sequences—and the pace of the EP makes it feel relatively accessible to a less techno inclined audience. To create something with this amount of cohesion and polish is no easy feat.

Letters From Ice is available on Bandcamp.

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