Marco Zenker and Dario Zenker aka the Zenker Brothers are siblings who need little introduction in techno circles. Their label Ilian Tape has been highly influential in exposing the world to incredible talents like Stenny and Skee Mask, but it is the Zenker Brothers themselves who remain the imprints most prominent artists.
Zenker Brothers have also released on Tresor Records and 50 Weapons, but have kept Ilian Tape as the main outlet for their original tracks, and their latest four track EP Mad System is something that got us super excited…
“Shaketown” opens the proceeding with some lo-fi percussion sequenced into a breakbeat rhythm. Slowly unfolding with throbbing bass notes and a dreamy synth playing jazzy melodies, the groove is loose and free-flowing. At times it sounds like the timing is held together by a thread that could break at any second, allowing the parts to collapse and fall out of time, but this only adds an exhilarating tension. Disjointed and hypnotic are two opposing terms rarely used to describe the same thing, but this is the rare exception, and the outcome is nothing less than spectacular.
“Chi Boost” is the second cut and it is much tougher than its predecessor with a chunky kick drum and reversed clap holding the time and laying a solid foundation for the rippling modulation of the arpeggiated synth line. Skips in the kick rhythm add a jacking edge to the groove but the main focal points are trippy sections where the percussion drops for a moment only to slam back in with added vigour. Raw and slightly funky, this heads down techno track is a charismatic, introvert that holds a steady momentum keeping you hooked from the first beat.
“Bengel Mode” is all about the percussion with pitched tom drums firing in sequence like the pistons of an engine powering heavy machinery. With a tiny little synth line sneakily poking its head up from behind the percussion to add some additional tension, it’s the explosive bursts of analogue texture that really bring this dark and magnificent cut to life. Possibly the standout cut on the release and certainly the most suited to the dance floor, there is something very mechanical about this track’s rhythms, but the analogue sounds keep it warm an organic to make some great contrast.
“Outside” closes out the release with an extended intro of ambient pads and white noise snares making way for bass stabs. Cinematic while also building tension, this is either a great DJ tool for opening or closing a set, but it’s also perfectly suited as a great ambient track for headphone listening. Of the EP offerings here, this is a nice bonus on the release for anyone who is looking for a whole package with lots of contrast.
- Reviewed by Jamie W. for deathtechno.com