Hanover's Axel Bartsch gets his first full release on the main Kompakt label following two previous offerings on the Speicher imprint. No stranger to anyone with an ear for club music, his earlier tracks have received support from Coxy and Timo Mass amongst others.
'Light in the Dark' opens with a dark intro of sombre riffs and one gets the feeling that this could be a gritty affair. This intuition is partially confirmed as the synth-riff escalates and a plodding kickdrum, almost progressive in nature, gets things rolling. Still, there's plenty of momentum to keep us interested. This one has a minimal, lo-fi, turn-the-lights-out feel and has some Villalobos influences in the form of aquatic drum-taps and plodding mid-range beats to the fore.
'Redlight' is just a notch up from the previous track in terms of tempo and straight away the bassline gets to work building a groove. Again a slight, progressive feel here but there's techno grit in the form of edgy noises. Buzzing, static sounds and offsets in the tone of the bassline keep us moving before another sombre riff is used. Minute, barely audible, jangly keys add another twist to this piece, but this is a track which keeps the listener waiting patiently in the hope of something else happening. Another builder, but in my opinion seems to do it better than the opening effort.
Finally, we reach what is my favourite piece of this minimal puzzle with 'Shining'. Just feel that dark, speaker-freaker vibe and you might agree with me. Bartsch means business on this one and in no time the track establishes itself with a great bit of nasty bass/synth action. More layers are added with gurgling synths and generally bubbly, electronic meanderings. This is indeed the pick of the crop and one for those who like to use dark, stroboscopic vibes to add an edge to proceedings. A great, mood-altering, little number which I will be keeping close at hand when I play out.
So, quite a good offering from Axel Bartsch on a release which is Kompakt in every sense of the word. Minimal in parts, it still gives us an adequate exploration of tone and will appeal to fans of techno and electro alike. Good to see Kompakt showing some form again on its main label following a few shrewd releases in recent times.
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