Well, Like I said the other day, I’ve been a bit drifty with regards to getting stuff done and the big pile in the corner is getting scary and wobbly. Luckily for me, if not for everyone else, the summer was a season of fairly slim pickings as all your favourite producers tootled off to Ibiza or wherever it is they go to cluster together in a great big techno-nest and jabber themselves to sleep with talk of cables and machines that go ‘wheep’.
Nachtzug – XP Lore (Possblthings)
Still, there’s been some decent stuff floating about. first up is Nachtzug. A German duo ( I think) who may not be overly familiar even though they’ve been tune-smithering for a decade or so. Most recently they cropped up with a fine release on Vortex Trax, and now appear on new label Possblthings with XP Lore, a record which comes at electro and techno from a slight tangent.
In fact, it might be best to describe XP Lore as an electro outrider. Although its core is very much electro, it skirts many of the more obvious sounds, reaching instead for a toolbox of influences that take in IDM, the waviness of early techno, and a rosey mist of ambient. Tunes such as Side Track and Cable Cake are tied tightest to the genre, and are both pretty darn good. Mixing crisp breaks with acidic grooves and flurries of angelic synths, they lock down their moods quickly to draw out some icy funk. Elsewhere the electro feel is toned down in exchange for a greater sense of IDM exploration. Komitee Kosmos danks down the speed until it becomes a slowly unfurling coil of shifting gothic emotions. Transmit rides a similar road, but stretches out a belt of acid to give it direction. While XP Lore never really convinces about what exactly it wants to be, it’s content to explore the shadows at the edges of a number of genres, doing so with a certain amount of panache.
Diasiva – Station 1805 (Acroplane Recordings)
A collaboration between Monolog and Swarm Intelligence, Station 1805 was very nearly victim to me not properly getting it at first. The first time it barked out the speakers at me I wrongly assumed it was going to be a slab of industrio-goth mentalness and I got ready to treat it accordingly. While my initial reaction was not entirely racing off in the wrong direction, there is a heck of a lot more going on that I first gave it credit for.
Once you dig below the crust of static and distortion, the leads and chords bent out of shape and the ricocheting beats, Station 1805 is a record of much invention.A lot of modern techno at the harder end of the circus has reached a point where grooves and funk have been almost surgically removed (well, as surgically as anything can be removed with a rusty penknife and lots of shouting) in order to cram as much bleak noise as possible into a limited frame-work. While Station 1805 feels at first as if it’s aiming for the same burning horizon, it actually veers away towards something very different.
It’s those very same ricochetting beats which make the difference, cutting through the clouds of noise with precision and giving the music a clarity of vision. Ethereal and Scrape are the biggest threats, both of them twisting the rhythms until the tracks lean away from raw techno, dragging out nuance from hardcore and jungle until they become pitch black slabs of alternative rave swaddled with echoing chiming insanity and dispassionate, cinematic, angles. Neckbrace ducks back into a tunnel-like 4/4 structure, and pumps out a nasty skanking mover which is reminiscent of 65D Mavericks’ sweet viciousness. Closer, Suffer Your Woes is a thick morass of despondent frequency, barely alleviated by the puncture-wound beats. It’s slow, heavy, and fascinating to witness. Like the back of some vast primordial rising through the brackish water it is thrilling and compelling and very unsettling.
Even so, it is the proto-grooves which keeps the music going. Not an easy feat in such a darkened and cloudy environment. And while Station 1805 is never going to be a record of choice for peak time escapades, there is a lot here to fire you up and out as the sun dips below the world’s edge.