Awash in effervescent sheets of reverb and echo that evoke images of Detroit’s decaying urban landscapes as they dissolve into the ether, there’s a certain physicality to the album’s sonic vistas that is lacking from the output of other producers mining similar territory. Where contemporaries such as Deadbeat and Mikkel Metal gloss over the dub with a digital sheen, DeepChord wring their sounds from tangles of live wires and sputtering banks of effects, molding and shaping them by hand until they coalesce into living organisms. It’s a sonic space with one foot in the past and the other firmly planted in the not-so-distant future.
Often resembling a cross between Berlin’s Basic Channel collective and Detroit’s techno lineage, ‘Vantage Isle’ is less an album of individual tracks than a compilation of remixes. Working from a limited sonic palette rooted in the signature warmth of the analog technologies of yore, the collection plays out in true dub fashion as each of the artists involved offers their own versions of the same rudimentary riddim. The effect is similar in fashion to Rhythm & Sound’s classic ‘See Mi Yah’ series, with the basic template examined and reexamined from different angles.
Despite being cut from the same aural cloth, each of the tracks occupies its own niche, with the artist’s stamp firmly imprinted on the final product. The three DeepChord mixes feature lumbering rhythms underpinned by devastatingly deep bass pulses set adrift amid a sea of tumbling chords and skittering delay. Echospace – the collaborative project between Soultek and DeepChord’s own Rod Modell – is well represented with five reshapes showcasing their signature style, which is simultaneously both more ambient and more techno-oriented than anything DeepChord has committed to tape. Labelmate CV313 also impresses, turning in a complimentary pair of tracks that demonstrate the mysterious producer’s aptitude for producing storming waves of driving beats over a milky smooth ambience.
But it’s the contribution from Convextion that really stands out. Paring the beat down to a pulsing mass of kick drums and ruptured bursts of static, the Texas-based producer weaves writhing clusters of chords into the mix as yawning pads bathe everything in a warm, static-fried glow. It’s creepy stuff, but it’s also the visionary highlight of an album that stands tall not just among the glut of contemporary dub techno releases, but among the classics of the genre as well. All in all, ‘Vantage Isle’ is a tremendous achievement that will most likely be held up as a high water mark of the genre for years to come.