April is here, and so is our column about techno!
Sarin X Imperial Black Unit – Will To Destroy
Sarin (Emad Dabiri) and Imperial Black Unit (Pablo Bozzi and Thomas Chalandon) join forces in this collaborative effort made of compulsively enthralling techno/EBM tracks with a strong cinematic feeling and old-school motifs. Will To Destroy is the new release for Phase Fatale (Hayden Payne) and Florian Engerling’s label BITE, a new reality which has already established itself as a top notch imprint in the field of EBM/industrial-tinged techno sounds. If In The Streets dwells in grinding techno-industrial stompers with a militant vibe and eerie synth sounds, offering mysterious vocals and obsessive samples, Malfunction goes deeper in cinematic soundscapes and electro-industrial influences, evoking early Skinny Puppy with its distorted vocals and melancholic melodies. Strategic Force is a dystopian mantra with cyberpunk atmospheres and steel-like drums, another voyage in an imaginary dark sci-fi movie, and the final number Will To Destroy suits its name thanks to grooving arpeggiators and compulsive beats immersed in a punishing dark techno sound with whipping rhythms. Another great release in one of the best hybridization of sounds ever happened.
Techno-industrial duo MDD (Martin Dolgener and Fahad Ahmad aka Measure Divide, both hailing from Toronto) debut on HANDS with their first album Reverse The Contrast, a communion of sharp techno movements and rhythmic noise obsession. After the distorted Intro, an industrial pastiche with dissonant effects, Crushed welcomes us with its hypnotizing rhythmic patterns and filtered samples, a modern ritual for post-industrial tribes. Breath is another example of atavistic tendencies with its tribal-like rhythm, matched with percussive attacks and brooding vocal deliveries, while Submission uses soothing female vocals and rhythmic noise soundscapes to a great effect – a dream-like, or nightmarish if you prefer, atmosphere dominates the track, moving among the bass sounds. Transition Pull is an acid experiments with full-front distortions and straighter techno vibes, an episode for late-night dancefloors, and Still Frame ends the album with its percussive pattern, adding evocative ambiances and machine -like rhythmic obsessions during its crescendo. Crooning vocals complete the track, offering an engaging experience. A well-crafted debut which offers a modern sound pushing forward the harder side of techno music.
Vault is the mysterious American duo Kelsi Holt & Daniel Lewis, whose music mixes minimal wave, EBM, coldwave and acid techno elements. After some tracks for the In The Dark Again series of digital compilations, they finally debut on Diffuse Reality with their album Paragon Of Virtue, offering five new tracks and three remixes. Dolorosa takes us by the hand, guiding us among brooding soundscapes made of minimal synths and vocals full of reverbs, evoking a lysergic atmosphere with almost dub vibes. A lo-fi affair close to Absolute Body Control early experiments. Nepenthe sees the presence of techno artist Erika Gluck, a throbbing affair with eerie choruses and robust kick drums, built upon an obsessive loop and speedy snares, and characterized by a darker second half with suspended acid techno moments. Desolated return to minimal wave/cold wave vibes, recalling a less crooning and eerier version of Boy Harsher – a droning synth underlines hypnotizing rhythms and female vocals full of effects. The track Opaline is remixed in different ways: the Dungeon Acid Remix is true to its name, isolating and rearranging rhythmic elements and grooving lines into an acid techno affair with ghostly effects, while SC-164 give us a dark techno version with militant structures and broken sounds, and finally Innershades enhance the melodic elements conjuring a synth-pop pastiche with strong snare-drums and almost new wave patterns. A peculiar release moving among different worlds, while staying true to its core sound.
French artist Mike Lévy, known as Gesaffelstein, is one of the main protagonist of the modern brand of techno music with electro and EBM influences, he released to great acclaim his first album Aleph on 2013, defining his sound and offering a template for other Djs and projects. Now he returns with Hyperion, a quite different affair focusing more on experiments and collaborations with artists coming from rap, r’n’b, indie, and even techno itself. The result has a more evocative soul, even touching synthwave and alternative pop elements. The title track is a retro pastiche with analog sounds and old-school keys, while Reset offers hip-hop vibes and suspended atmospheres. The real shocker is Lost In The Fire, featuring r’n’b artist The Weeknd, a commercial number with subdued beats and placid sounds. Other experiments see indie-pop band Haim and their female vocals (So Bad), as well as the collaboration between The Hacker and Electric Youth Forever, sporting synthwave vibes with relaxed sounds, evocative lines and soothing female vocals. Other tracks explore the usual electro sound of his, but with a penchant for retro experiments and a more ambient-oriented kind of techno. Hyperion is not a dancefloor affair, it plays with mainstream elements and the recent fascination for 80’s film-scores and 70’s instrumental music, giving us a strange output with a peculiar soul. If you’ll listen to it with an open mind, you will find a great production and some really interesting tracks.