Review: DJ Spider And Franklin De Costa – F Planet (Berceuse Heroique)

I’ve grown a little jaded about techno over the last few months, a little weary of what is beginning to feel like a game of generics where a host of electronic men-in-black seem increasingly tied into a competition where the aim is to out donk each other, to create sounds where the individual tunes can only be differentiated by how much more TECHNO!!! they are than the last. There are no doubt a number of doozy old reasons for this (and those reasons include the possibility I am talking out of my arse), but the first and foremost suspect is the old killer of all genres – a lack of imagination.

Not that this is something you could really accuse either DJ Spider or Franklin De Costa of. Both of them have shown many times a taste for deep, fluid, and effective techno which, while orbiting the familiar take on the genre we all know and occasionally love, tends to travel to more esoteric worlds, propelling the music with sounds drawn from a wider range of sources than whatever’s fallen out of Berghain or Tresor recently.

F Planet marks the duo third (I think?) collaboration together, and in some senses it feels like a continuation of work begun on the two Genetically Modified Tracks Eps previously released on Killekill. Actually, ‘continuation’ is probably the wrong word. There is a greater sense of evolution. Where the Genetically Modified was, in turn, aggressive, funky, and playful (the still phenomenal Buzzaw remains a case in point) F Planet approaches with a far away look in its eye.

Overall, perhaps, the music is more mature and rounded. It doesn’t lose sight of the funk – both the original tracks here retain a rare ability to move your feet as well as you ears – but the rawness, the ground down, ragged steel that was once more apparent, has been newly tempered, folded in on itself to provide a stark emotional foundation which has allowed the duo to simply do more and take the music further.

Part of this is down to a noticeable absence of Proper Techno Nonsense: No light sucking kick drums, no perc which sounds as if it was rendered from field recordings of bin lorries at work; no attempt to retrofit the music to a particular template. Even in its harsher moments (and there are, still, enough to rattle your skull) F Planet revels in a subtle vibe grown out of a deepened well of influences. You can feel the gritty soulfulness of East Coast deep house in it, as if the music of DJ Q or Joey Anderson had washed against it in the depths of night; there are little kinks: half observed flashes of old style low countries techno, signal bursts from the mid west, cold frosts of the bleakest of noir soundtracks.

The two original tracks excel at creating a tightening hold on the imagination. F Planet and Astral Pilot rattle between a dark snarl and a far more shimmering, icy, energy where they delve into cold fogs and claw unsettling beauty from the mists. Astral Pilot is a touch less biting than the sibling, particularly when, about three minutes in, it begins to unfurl thick pads over the top of the haunted groove. The Shifted Remix of F Planet is, perhaps understandably, a more conventional affair. Hardly surprising considering the way the original takes pleasure in wrong footing you between its growl and its sighs. It’s still a damn good attempt, heavier in mood than either of the original tracks, but suffers from the way in which it straightens the alien curves which led you out into the weird hinterlands. But the way in which it screws down into its own, odd path through the shadows makes it easy to forgive. Another deep hit of occult techno from a duo who are really beginning to think as one.

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