Two years after his first long player, Boys Noize is back on his own label (and in a fitting association with Turbo) with a new artist album titled Power. As the name suggests, the subtler side Ridha has developed on his remixes for the likes of Feist (the still weirdly poignant "My Moon My Man") and Sébastien Tellier (his two versions of "L'amour et la violence" are particularly stellar) is put aside for something more uncompromising altogether. As a result, compared to Oi Oi Oi, Power is colder, squarer, more direct and unsparing.
That's both a blessing and a curse. Putting aside his distortion boxes and his dizzying plug-ins on most of the 12 tracks here, Boys Noize is basically offering a speed-charged, boosted version of himself. Sure, first single "Jeffer" and "Sweet Light" are, predictably, all flashy stabs and sharp angles, but it shouldn't leave a negative shadow on the more adventurous moments elsewhere. "Transmission" is the album's true pièce de résistance, a kaleidoscopic piece of stubborn techno that isn't ashamed to include a pristine, ultra-simple melody amongst various buzz and ear-piercing twirls: it doesn't really seem to know where it is going (incidentally, it fades out in an unsurprising way), but it does show a newly discovered sense of exploration.
Tracks like "Nerve" and "Rozz Box" are even more stubborn, sparse and uncompromisingly unmelodic, like Aphex Twin at his most obtuse. Then you have cuts like "Drummer," which sound like a playful early '90s R&S leftover; "Nott" similarly morphs from early techno à la Joey Beltram to ecstatic acidic mayhem. Album closer "Heart Attack" even recalls Plaid with a second-hand beatbox and a broken heart.
Power sees Ridha taking maximalist techno back to its roots by bringing its core components to the forefront while getting rid of the rowdy tics negatively attached to nü-rave. It's like he wanted these tracks to be played by his personal hero Carl Craig as much as by, let's say, Erol Alkan (with whom he also recorded maximal-by-numbers cuts "Waves" and "Death Suite" earlier this year). In that regard, the album does have an overall brutal effectiveness that is both impressive and consistent.
That said, it seems like Ridha couldn't help but resurrect some of techno's very own clichés either, as Power seems clinical, formulaic, even slightly stiff—a feeling that is only enhanced by the recurring use of menacing robotic vocals. As his previously mentioned remix works have proven, Ridha can function perfectly well in warmer surroundings: his take on so-called nü-rave would probably benefit from the input of actual vintage human emotions, something that is only hinted at only briefly here.
Buy Boys Noize - Power at
Tracklist: Boys Noize - Power 01. Gax
02. Kontact Me
08. Sweet Light
10. Rozz Box
12. Heart Attack
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