This is the first solo release by Monoloc (Frankfurt DJ and producer Sascha Borchardt), since his 2016 album, The Untold Way.
Berlin’s Dystopian label is known for work by Rødhåd , Vril and other purveyors of deep, thoughtful and atmospheric techno and this release continues that tradition. Despite the label name, there are darker labels offering darker music. In fact, their releases tend to be finely balanced between light and shade.
Monoloc steers his own path, flirting with but not aligning with some of the main trends in contemporary techno. When in a darker mode, there’s a lightness of touch and precision that differentiates it from some contemporary reverb-drenched doom-laden techno. Yet when in a lighter mode, you’re aware that things could change at any moment. His music is fluid and never rests in one mode for too long. While comprising only four tracks – two of them instant classics – this latest release is more memorable than many full-length albums.
The opening ‘Inner Reduction’ is a deceptively ethereal scene-setter. It’s drenched in atmosphere and has a slight edge to it that gradually becomes more present as the wistful the drones come in. It ends in a gorgeous, slow coda that doesn’t quite prepare you for the action to follow.
The title track initially retains an ethereal atmosphere but soon reinforces it with faster beats and a rolling bass line. In their wake a more sinister and highly memorable sequence then infiltrates, shifting the mood and intensifying it to a cinematic scale.
‘Mufon’ builds on this momentum and depicts an epic sonic landscape. It starts uneasily, and is then scoured by massed ranks of darkly dynamic sounds joined by choral elements. It’s a highly original and impressive track of great power and vision.
After this, ‘From The Method’ gently guides the listener back towards the light. While there’s a melancholic, bittersweet undercurrent, there’s also a certain optimism and the sense of a storm having passed. It’s a slower track that provides a swirling, graceful sense of closure to a brief but very strong release. This is distinctive, imaginative, widescreen techno that leaves a lasting impression.
MONOLOC – DROUGHT EP (DYSTOPIAN027)