Pinpointing the mellower angles of Folded Spaces is an instant spoiler alert from this UK technologist. Lee J Malcolm essentially packs his heavy duty motifs back into storage, as if there’s a time and a place, so one set of fans of the 2011 LP will be a little disappointed that “Miri Pow” is the sole purveyor of low wrenching rumbles, while “Trashcan Riotface Queen” has spots of techno in its blood. He is however keeping alive an interest in late night, stargazing electronica that was the other part of the deal on his debut. “Wonder How” adds heavy craters to the formation of moon dust clouds, and the fine “Freememake” is transfixed by the night sky until it finds itself in the face of a meteor shower.
The early danger is being even-tempered electronica with little of the unexpected, an uninterrupted route from A to B. “To London To Meet The Band” tries settling this score by planting layers of the cryptic, as Malcolm develops a reclusive aura of a bedroom alchemist by streetlight using a quill to fuel feeling, and “For Dam” displays a Burial-like lurch. “Trappings” and “We Just Might” reach insignificant outcomes, though both are technically skilled in their poise — therein lies the difficulty to stay above average when it comes to relaxation babbling along, occasionally soaring and with a little tension still in earshot.
In no mood to start spinning lullabies to the sleep-deprived but an indicator of the check-in/check-out routine of the global spinner, UK veteran Paul Souter aims to peel off motel wallpaper with a fifth album of techno and tech-house damage. Using the hotel room as studio sounding board, Hotel Insomnia dives headfirst into everything; not going as far as backing a back-to-basics approach, but with a certain “Strings of Life” zing to “Old,” Mac is under the tuition that if there’s a beat to get into and a floor to wipe opposition with, get on with it and stop waiting for things to happen. “Driven Points” is a great example, urged on by wicked bassline propulsion, while a mirror image philosophy goes for the somewhat abrupt exits some tracks make.
Occasionally meandering into the fruitless, the semi-scientific “Disc Electronique” is sparklingly spacious or spotlessly empty, and “Kinda Dubby” is bit too straight-up-and-down. Regardless, Mac is always busy, overlapping with layers mouse-clicked through a techno revolving door, always in control, and despite being an aggressor of significant might, always hard but fair. “More Disco” and tumble-dryer/punisher “Sketched Up” love dark alleys and bumping into people therein, and “Never Ending” rides the night train to delight all midnight metro commuters as it shakes and shanks from side to side; all proof of the album’s grit and graft.
Scheming in adamant, move-it-or-lose-it techno circles, Kombinations should actually only come in the singular: the classic of bass oscillation meets clanging percussion snips, coming from your average out-of-sight research development centre. Kristian Heikkila’s bunkered rollers force heads down until they’re being dunked, the Swede hammering home his point with “We Want Techno,” featuring one of those “History of House”/”The DJ” style monologues that gatecrashers the minimalism. Where frequencies are calculated to the nanosecond, Heikkila concurrently serves notice of a shift into a tech-house sound, where the impact and pull give the slightest rebalancing and where the chokehold isn’t quite as throttling.
The reasoning could well be that by the time the slithering “Filter” and restless “Svaj” have emerged from whatever skank-hole they’ve been lurking in, the more rounded out bumps of “02” are there to provide a marginal, lesser of two evils relief (“01” having created some sort of malicious twin inverse). Repeated listening reveals Heikkila is shape-shifting like a sneak, with the eerie electro and dub voltages running through “Stakker” and temporary creep-out on “Noises” making you both catch and hold your breath. See, more Kombinations than you first think, where it pays to stay part of a crowd whose only interaction will be through the sharing of sweat. File under: Christian Lundqvist, Agoria, Motor City Drum Ensemble