Minimal techno is best understood as a design problem: How do you build a track with the fewest possible elements? JPLS and Ambivalent tackle this question by returning to the days of Daniel Bell's "Blip" and "Beep," pegging each song on Creeps to a single eponymous sound.
"Creep" offers a decent loop with a thundering kick drum and a wavering synthesizer that slowly drifts into the foreground, but not much else happens. The action is on "Frontstab," where a fat keyboard stab is coaxed into a wide-swinging chorus that chops and rolls across a peppy drum kit. You can feel the effect of each knob being nudged as the sound breathes and growls across the top and bottom of your speakers. "Stalker2" performs a similar trick, pairing a badass snarl with a purring high-end that marries the best elements from JPLS and Ambivalent's solo efforts ("Activatroy" and "Nugget").
The digital version of Creeps is bundled with two filler tracks. "Backstab" is basically "Frontstab" in reverse, with a curved tone dragging across the drums, yet the effect is more cartoonish than its forward-facing counterpart. There's a moment in JPLS's remix of the same track when the skittering percussion evokes the mad energy of Plastikman's 1993 classic "Spastik" without coming anywhere close to its physical shock. I found myself worrying that fifteen years later, minimal techno has become a formal exercise rather than a futuristic genre defined by gutsy invention. Fortunately, the raw grind of "Frontstab" and "Stalker2" keeps this nagging concern at bay.
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Tracklist: JPLS & Ambivalent - Creeps EP 01. Creep
05. Backstab (JPLS Remix)