Techno’s Outer Limits :: March 2015

Latest in a series of postcards from Techno’s Twilight Zone of 12″/EPs and LPs with notes in the margins. Listen to select tracks via Soundcloud at bottom of article.

Techno's Outer Limits March 2015

First Paris, whence French techno maverick Terence Fixmer dials in his first full-length in five years Depth Charged on CLR. Something of an old hand by now, he apparently sets out to ‘tell a story from start to finish.’ Whatever narrative its clandestine electronics and hypnotic late night rhythms may evoke for you, it’s a distinctly shady document; edgy ambience and bleak droning textures predominate, with exceptions such as the few shades lighter “Thoughts.” Still down and out in Paris, Taapion return with a second compilation, TPN004, co-curators Shlømo and PVNV colluding with suspects usual and less usual. Shlømo with “Radioactive Sin” and Francois X with “Dreaming Of The Tesseract” are sorted for loops and tension, but flip it for deeper atmo with PVNV, and especially from newcomer Birth Of Frequency, whose “Child” is resplendent in a gorgeous pad sustain and nifty spring-loaded beats. Je Suis Taapion!

Next up, more goodness on Dino Sabatini’s Outis with Claudio PRC & Ness (TGP), whose post-headfuck style is showcased on the Icore EP (also see their handy Outis Podcast Series 006). The title track is an obsessive 4/4 kicker with synth mesmerics in swirling ’spheres, but the remixes are where it’s at round these parts, with Nuel’s coming on like another Aquaplano, the deal clinched by Capo Sabatini with his transcendent fractal mix. He also pops up with Edit Select on Multiplo for Swiss imprint, Motoguzzi. ES’s is a heavy affair with steely drums, tides of percussion and echo, while DS’s manifests in lissom synco-patter on which he nicely nests chordal layers and lets loose ripples of bleeps.

Back in the Blighty, Luke Slater, captain of Planetary Assault Systems, has been a constant on the margins of techno’s outer limits over two decades with a raft of works across a number of labels. The Eyes Themselves EP, the latest on his own Mote Evolver, sees PAS get down to choreographing layers of crisp involving sound design on a bleep-infested title track, morphing from a beat and bassline to an engrossing sci-fi barrage with high-freq sound droplets fading in like silver rain fall, after which fluctuations in percussive heft refract through the mesmerism for an intriguing axis-shift effect. “Arc,” the hardest here, fuelled by dirty filtered motifs and odd unsalubrious bursts of steam coming up from the floor, prefers urban edge to the customary other-world view-finding. On to another Englishman, this one in Berlin, Guy Brewer aka Shifted released two slow-creep sets, Arrangements In Monochrome Part One and Part Two on his Avian label at year’s end. Lest you missed its hard-stare tech-noir due to institutionalized merriment, it still glowers alluringly. Whirling dervish industrial and dark ambient atmos sizzle and smoulder with dystopia through “Arrangement In Monochrome I.” A I M Part Two is a touch more delicate, with less muscular pulse-scapes like “Second Wash” and Milton Bradley-esque “The Incoherent” snagging the ear nicely, though  “Arrangement In Monochrome II,” with its Mike Parker modulations, and “Entartung,” and its Mike Dehnert hi- jack, ensure not so much bang for your buck as pound for your pound.

Dubit’s new project Fragmenti purports to be unique for several reasons (pun intended!). More than a mere album, it’s a soundtrack to a no-dialogue art film, to be released in segments, scored by a series of field recordings made in Berlin and around Europe. While these ideas aren’t exactly ground-breaking, there’s some decent technoid organic-electronic soundscaping here (see live here). The concept seemingly sprang ‘from the necessity of silence and the study of its interaction with noise,’ we’re told, with Monsieur du Bit going on excitedly about ‘a concept of information sharing; a documentary of today …a translation of memories, images, feelings, relationships, the means to an end, languages, dreams and nightmares, our interior conflict, our ego, our being…’ Pretentious or compellingly inquiring? You decide.

Going Dutch, we find Field Records offering D.Å.R.F.D.H.S. an outlet for a fulsome full-length, In The Wake Of The Dark Earth. Michel Isorinne and Jonas Rönnberg have previous form under various aliases on the likes of Opal Tapes and Northern Electronics. Following up an album last year for Glasgow’s Clan Destine, these Swedish phonauts range through foggy scapes and glacial tech-tracts on an album made for home headphonauts; thick with atmo and pulse, at times shadowy and eerie, at others bliss-kissed. Talk of Sweden brings us to Hypnus, whose sacred doctrine is revisited by Luigi Tozzi with Wadjet, which, allegedly, ‘evokes archetypal snake entities and creates a narrative outlining the enigma of life’s duality, known to the high initiates as the Principle of Correspondence.’ Yep, the Hypnus house style brings a deal of discourse (aka blah? You decide…) about things like ‘the laws and phenomena of the various planes of Being and Life…’ and ‘the means of solving many a dark paradox, and hidden secret of Nature,’ but if you can make it through the pseudo-spiritual froth, there are deeper draughts to be drawn in some compelling music. As there is too on recent compilation, Zodiac, which, as well as Tozzi, features remixes by kindred spirits from Korridor‘s crucial Dyson Sector NGC 224. Hypnus-related adepts have been spreading to other channels lately, e.g. Acronym with the finely wrought Yggdrasil on Spain’s Semantica, and Elle, on Norway’s Annulled, with his Yemaja EP, no frivolous floor-filler or brute banger, but ‘a composition commemorating the African gods. A series sounds and environments that move into the depths of mythology.’ Natch! And, seamlessly, Natch it is that brought you Synthek & Audiolouis’s Unwise (see our last emission), and now, lookee here, it’s the Remix Series #1, with a sample of sound-styles seemingly representing some of S&A’s crucial reference points. Tadeo and Aubrey do ok, but it’s back to Paris, base for ‘Blurry Techno Entity’ Polar Inertia, for the boldest departure, eschewing bog standard remix-by-numbers for extreme deep atmospherics, textural drone trails, dusky bass, and insistent pulse. Buy Polar!

And so to Spain, where there’s definitely something in the water judging by  the rash of Outer Limits Iberian Tech-niks, biggest—if not best—being Oscar Mulero. Something of a veteran by now, his Dualistic Concept EP is a trailer for a soon-come album on his own PoleGroup featuring pummelling remixes from Stanislav Tolkachev and customary weirdiness from SHXCXCHCXSH. But it’s Mulero’s own “Mechanical Function – Hypnotic Edit” with the timbral variation of its questing filtering that most intrigues. Elsewhere Unam Zetineb is given his head by Berliners 030 to cement that label’s dark techno credentials with Jealous/Silence, though its remixes are from non-Hispanics Sleeparchive (DE) and PVS (IT). Then there’s Spanish duo NX1, also out of Germany, with the latest in a series of EPs, NX1 07, on their own NX1, and a remix of Alessio Pili for the latest percussive propulsive Counter Pulse Series offering, #12. Another Spaniard, this one in Canada, is Annie Hall, who runs record cutting company RVSD with her mate, but when not record-cutting, she’s making cutting edge records, like Graphic Violence on FLASHa textured techno blend more cerebral than its title suggests, albeit bespeaking the harbouring of some savage beast unsoothed within. Finally, there’s the Absent EP from Sendo—seemingly an alias of Marc Ramirez—on Hong Kong’s Sino. Apparently ‘the result of a ‘lifelong passion for sci-fi films and the aim to translate these movies into sound,’ its three tracks engage in an esoteric ambient-styled adventures via ‘utterly deep soundscapes and mysteriously rattling compositions with a cinematic approach.’ Mysterious rattler alert!

Next, by way of a heads up, though no new releases have been seen lately on nAX Acid’s Aconito Records, you may have missed a couple of goodies, first being the Exploring Planet X EP from Nicola Ruffino aka Ink. With titles like “The ancient being is dancing in your mind,” it comes as no surprise to find it touted as an ‘exploration journey to discover unknown and mysterious lands both outside and inside ourselves, that reminds the Argonauts’ venture. The sounds express the emotions of fear and anguish of these modern Argonauts facing an alien environment.’ Fair enough, it’s certainly a big resounding sound, from the distant dread rumble and shimmer of “Unknown Land” to the swarming phantoms of ‘Amygdaloid Voices / On The Threshold’ and the cold shuddering pulses of “Underworld Jungle.” The second release is from Madrid’s Kuroi, who with her Lmnts EP refracts a more cerebral techno sensibility through a certain heft and atmospheric pressure. Neato from Aconito!

Self-styled ‘atmosphere and texture explorer’ Coldgeist, having set the tone for his local Rennes (FR) imprint, Ritual Process, with his Blackest Way, has crossed the channel to sling a brace of tracks onto a split EP 2 for London’s Children Of Tomorrow. We’re promised ‘deep, atmospheric and industrial traces for a techno without any compromise. Analog gear helped him to reinforce the intensity and let the darkness wrapping your body.’ Blimey! Not content with this, he’s bunged a bunch of bits of a more exploratory bent together to make the ce qui est en haut LP. Heading Med-wards, we find a nice post- industrial-inflected ambient tech-slab on Birth by VSK. The fruits of Francesco Visconti’s sound engineer training and apprenticeship with techie sound-maven Ken Karter (and kinship with Conrad Van Orton, partner in Consumer Recreation Services Recordings) are evident on Birth #002—curated with an ear for sound design beyond generic DJ-tool manipulator, teeming with detail, with texture and ambiance accentuated as much as the 4/4 kick-pulse imperative. Stand-out, “Psicaulon,” is apparently a tribute to Kangding Ray, whose “Luna” was, incidentally, a highlight of Chapter 3 of the recent Stroboscopic Artefacts 5-year anniversary EPs. Finally, another VSK haunt, Planet Rhythm, played host to Alderaan‘s Vexations EP, a strong release with sneakily shifting centers of gravity. Argentine producer Franco De Michele’s Berlin-esque productions, charged with texture, bass pressure, and mesmeric rhythms, are seen to good effect on the current Surface EP for London’s Weekend Circuit, a 5-track slalom through a slew of hypnotic synthesis with liquid basslines, alive with scurrying shadows and propulsive intent.

Latest albient mix Dalliance #10 features some of these artists and releases.

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