I’ve long thought of the Token imprint being at the forefront of the techno scene and I’d been excited to hear the Aphelion compilation as soon as it was announced. Being asked to review these beautiful white records was therefore a great pleasure. But please don’t take my word for it, if you’ve even a passing interest in contemporary techno, this demands repeated listens.
Aphelion gathers some of the most respected names on the scene and takes a track from each. I’ve picked the ones that stand out for me here, but it could easily have been any of the others as all nine of these tracks are top drawer.
Planetary Assault Systems “The 808 Track (Parts 1 & 2)” is just that – skittering percussion and glitches weaving in and out of that beautiful, rounded 808 kick and a perfectly nuanced bassline. There’s a nervy, fingers-down-the-blackboard breakdown in the middle which cranks up the tension, then the groove just goes and goes (it’s a 9 minute plus track). This is a highly danceable minimalistic workout from one of the legends.
“Insectoid” by Ø [Phase] unfurls a rocking broken beat kickdrum on you and jams the point home with a relentless throbbing bassline. The accompanying hihats are superb – some clipped, precise and measured with others wide open, almost to the point of static/drone. Midway, these last hats build up to a crescendo and drive the second half of the track, where new elements are introduced and the tracks complexity becomes apparent. Probably the album highlight for me. Listen to it loud in the dark – you’ll see what I mean.
Inigo Kennedy is an artist I’ve respected for a long time, and I love the juxtaposition of the parts in “Arcing.” No intro here – straight into a seriously menacing, growling bassline and some panel beating kicks. This type of tune makes you feel like you’re running over the planet at a hundred miles an hour. This is wonderfully set off by the spacey, slightly melancholic synths. These are big, big synth notes, and when heard in isolation (a couple of times in the track) could be from a different tune. But these elements work SO well together. Masterclass.
Blawan and Pariah’s Karenn collaboration needs no introduction and “Pace Yourself” is typical of their output. Super edgy and atmospheric sounds precede the massive kicks, the atmosphere and tension builds from there. I’m always astounded how tracks like this can be dark and funky at the same time – here, some small percussive notes and cycling bass do the business. Halfway in the kicks intensify like a closing vice, and new elements of percussion and glitches come to the fore. As you hear them, you realise they have been there all the time, waiting for their chance to get out. Superb.
Added to the musical quality, if you’re a vinyl head, the release is superbly packaged, heavyweight materials, minimalistic design, a thing to admire, weigh in your hands and experience (not just aurally). All credit to Token for producing this fantastic showcase of incredible talent. Goes without saying it’s essential.
Aphelion is out now on triple LP (TOKEN48LP) with CD and download (TOKEN48D) from the usual outlets.
– Reviewed by Stuart Ingram for deathtechno.com