You have to wonder if the reason techno is so popular right now has to do with the deep alienation felt by many in Western capitalist societies. Where house music has often offered escapism and a reassurance that everything is going to be alright, contemporary techno deals in a far more brutal catharsis that seems fitting for the age. It simultaneously makes manifest the terror of 21st century existence and offers transcendence from it, as much through its unrelenting physical pressure as its brief moments of beauty and release. It embodies and erases the dark world around it.
Few producers seem to understand this better than Juan Rico. On this full-spectrum outing of two production aliases, Reeko and Architectural, he melds those two modes of techno in a way that is highly evocative and free of cliché. There is no simple progression, here, from the banging to the beatific. "Sex On Kelper," for instance, is all dubby warmth and shooting star synths, but repeatedly disturbed by a heavy clunk that sounds like a prison door shutting, or an artillery gun being reloaded. "String Theory," a beatless sprawl of surging, arcing arpeggiation, undermines the usual notion of ambient techno: its waves and cycles grow so dramatically that it's exhilarating instead of soothing.
The distinction that Rico achieves between individual sounds in these cavernous tunes is remarkable, and lends the tracks a cinematic quality. With its twisted traffic noise, thunderous, rolling beat and huge cracks of lightning, "Melted" is as tense and humid as a South Asian mega-city beneath a gathering storm. Remarkable audio clarity lifts the thumping "Startling Idea" into a different realm and ratchets up the poignancy of the dank, Raime-like darktronica of "The Universal Dream". Rico is a producer of rare skill, one who completely understands the functionality and emotional resonance of techno.
Tracklist: Reeko w/Architectural - The Blue Album01. Blue
04. Sex on Kepler - 22b
05. Force Carriers
06. String Theory
07. Startling Idea
08. The Universal Dream