Relapso released States Evolution his first album this week, it’s an absolute must for fans of deep, dark and hypnotic techno. It’s already receiving support from heavyweights such as Kr!z, The Clairvoyants, Drumcell, Norman Nodge and Chris Liebing and it’s testament to Relapso’s skills as a producer that something this coherent and yet containing such diversity was produced in just 9 months.
Like all good albums, this needs to be listened to in it’s entirety to “get” it. Individual tracks can of course be enjoyed in isolation - and there is much here to satistfy everyone in terms of standout or club ready tracks - but there is much greater reward in listening to the entire set. The album is intelligently programmed, with recurring themes and ideas subtlely woven into the ten pieces of music on offer. Here are just a few of the many highlights:
“Clear State” has that deep tunneling bassline that we love so much and with the hefty kick and sputtering hi-hats this provides the core intensity. However, the focus in this track is on the experimentation with the melodic sounds. A series of destroyed, distorted synth notes creeps into existence and then cycles and evolves endlessly and at a furious pace - no two bars are the same and yet there is clear direction and structure to the track. The breakdowns add even more weight to the bottom end and prominent hi-hats bring the pace, while the synth notes mutate even further and are left to finish out the track, revealing their true range. I want to see this performed live please!
“Edge State” is very appropriately titled - an edgy and powerful chunk of dark techno. Again, there are the repeating and evolving notes (this time in the near background), becoming more distorted and menacing as the track progresses, decaying out through the breakdowns, only to be reignited at the drop. Lots of drama is provided by up front hihats, which along with some muted acid stabs, provide some kind of rein on the writhing sounds beneath. Towards the end, hyper fast percussion leads us out as the weighty sounds fade, leaving a feeling of a head full of static noise. Intense.
Change up into more dancefloor territory next on “Embrace State.” The trademark kicks are in place, a little slower, a little more groove here… a funked up, musical, percussive loop that instantly catches you - 20 seconds in and you know this is a sure thing. Machine gun rattle percussion lifts the energy up further, then by the time the half-heard vocal sample hits (the first one we’ve heard on the album - ‘let me dance, let me dance’) it’s through the roof. Breakdowns are handled nicely, beautiful filtered notes emerging from a wall of LFO, before the track slams back in. Your dancefloor is now locked in, believe me.
“Introscope State” is probably my pick of this album (and I changed my mind several times while writing this, it’s too hard a decision). But Introscope just gets it for its heavy, funky broken beats, buzzing, subtle bassline and the echoing percussive loops and that absolutely irresistable little stab note every second beat. The track is absolutely perfectly balanced between heavy and light, the elements build just right as it plays out. A great, versatile tune for the DJs because of it’s variety too.
So that’s just four of the ten tracks on offer here - the rest are for you to discover yourself. This is an album full of intelligent, hypnotic and addictive electronic music from a highly talented Portuguese producer, with a growing back catalogue and support from major players on the scene. It’s on bandcamp for €7, which is nothing when you consider the amount of care and attention that it has clearly received. Buy it, and watch for more.
- Reviewed by Stuart Ingram for deathtechno.com