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Album of the Week: Monoloc 'Drift'

Martin likes this techno piece.

Artist: Monoloc
Album: Drift
Label: CLR
Release Date: 02/01/12

Watching Sascha Borchardt, AKA Monoloc, play techno inside a club is pretty full on. The sounds he unleashes are uncompromising, filled with industrial snatches and oppressive atmospherics, stopping short of Perc’s smashing-metal-bars-on-metal ethos, but boasting far more by way of resonant low ends and eerie hints of melody.

There’s plenty going on without things ever being particularly formulaic, with an audible suggestion of dread. But you won’t find big breakdowns, more moments of calm in between heaviness. All of which makes his debut LP, Drift, slightly surprising, because though still born of dance music’s darkest dark rooms, there’s songwriting afoot too.

Perhaps most notably (but not exclusively) on When I Get Older, which features the vocals of one Daniel Wilde. A meld of softly spoken Matthew Dear style lyricism, reverberating baritones, tracking cymbals and a low harmonious hum, it makes for hypnotic stuff to say the least, seemingly drawing the listener deeper into the wonderful repetition.

The same voice makes another two appearances, both of which serve in some way to accentuate this marriage of shadowy arrangements with a neo-shoegaze delivery of words. It’s A Shame underpins this with sledgehammer broken beats, creating a kind of nasty-yet-ambient experience- an idea that could well be at the core of this album. The ethereal being served up on a blueprint of cutting edge, 21st Century underground techno.

Try could well be the archetypal example therein. Siren-like vocal cries ring out across a soundscape of filtered refrains, with the rhythms leaning towards bassier, more stepping avenues. Meanwhile, opening gambit Mind forms something of a tense tune up, as bass releases peter out, steam-like, but never erupt beneath the whirl of organs and occasional, distorted drum flairs, resulting in another effective piece of semi-experimentalism. Throw in the tough but tech-housey Pblc, a minimilistic outing of wide-load 4x4s and dubby tones perfect for getting heads down on the floor, and it’s what you might call a highly worthwhile inaugural offering, or simply a job well done.

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