Refracted can count labels such as Aconito, Silent Season and Reaktivate in his back catalogue and here steps up with four originals for the second release on his own Mind Express imprint. His profile states “Deep rhythms and atmospheric elements have always played a major role in Refracted’s music” and in these days of hype, it’s pleasant that it’s spot on.
These tracks are not about big build ups and breakdowns. Nothing short lived or tacked on to enhance a part. Each tune sets up a deep, heavy groove and explores variations within it. If you listen closely there are myriad of subtle variations, all cleverly interacting to make musical sense. The producer has clearly spent a lot of time developing the ideas and fitting them together and it shows in a polished and coherent set of tracks.
“Variable” is a little more straight ahead than the other tunes with upfront broken beats and a wobbling, pulsing sample. A lovely “click” to the percussion on this. A chiming woodblock takes centre stage for most of the track, driving, muted, echoing and everything in between. The groove is so strong and stable that the mind hears new interactions between the different elements - one listener will hear slightly different to another - this is exceptional music. Again the abrupt fade, leaving the sounds echoing in the mind.
“Constant” is an exercise in understated power. There are distinct elements that spend 6 minutes plus interacting with each other and morphing individually. At its heart is a fast paced rolling bassline locked to clicking percussion and pulsating static. The bassline breathes and tightens as the track progresses, changing up to an incisive melody and then diving back down. Very subtle, yet powerful. Around the top, panning ethereal and unnerving notes, gliding into each other, reminiscent of Lakker; also sharpening and loosening (hints of acid) in a continuous cycle. A repeating 2 beat loop, a muted siren call, puts the icing on this intelligent and perfectly realised tune.
“Polynomial” takes some of the themes from the first track and runs with them. A big, measured kick underpins the signature pulsing bassline that just does not let up. The build in this track is unstoppable - gradually overdriven synth notes, rising hi-hats and (is it imagined?) a slow tightening of the screw, bass getting louder, is the track getting faster? The percussion cuts, the bass evaporates and you’re left with a fading synth echo to remind you of the tension.
“Use of Abstraction” at first seems mistitled - there is nothing abstract about the tight, powerful bass drum groove. Counterpoint cymbal work is gradually introduced alongside ephemeral, floating background notes. Some deeper sounds occur too - is there a very processed vocal clip in there? A long, long note builds to a shattering brightness before a beautiful melodic collapse. The note plays out, with sounds of a synthetic sea washing over the listener to the end. This would be my pick of the EP, but I honestly can’t choose between this and “Variable” as my favourite.
Mind Express 002 is out on 140g vinyl via Juno Records and is available from usual outlets. It’s pretty much an essential item if you like deep, atmospheric and powerful Techno.
- Reviewed by Stuart Ingram for deathtechno.com