A PhD in advanced techno would probably be an advantage when listening to Dino Sabatini however. For whether as half of Modern Heads with Gianluca Meloni or the solo artist behind such tracks as 2008's "No More," the Italian producer's dark and austere techno is as determinedly highbrow as it is defiantly hard work. His decision to base 2010's Daughter Of Phorsys EP around the Greek gods showed a man clearly unafraid of accusations of pretentiousness. His debut album is similarly conceptual, exploring both the idea of the shaman and his own interpretation of African rhythms.
Africa is hardly uncharted territory for Western dance music, the continent's traditional polyrhythmic percussion having been purloined by everyone from Leftfield to DJ Gregory and the entire Afro house movement. But Sabatini's approach is much different to simply chucking djembe samples over some loops. Indeed, apart from the syncopated drum patterns it's initially hard to discern any ethnic influences at all. Shaman's Path seems more alien than African: "Trance State" and "Ritua" might sound like they contain samples of croaking frogs and tribal cries across the savannah, but filtered through Sabatini's circuitry they could just as easily be bursts of static and the whimpers of dying satellites heard across space. While Sabatini's stripped-back aesthetic and heavy processing means he avoids most of the tie-dyed clichés of "ethnic" music, if you're not paying attention the mechanical scrapes and rattling beats of a track like "White Witch" can just seem like stereotypical minimal techno.
You won't need to put yourself through quite the same mental and physical rigours that true shamans do to achieve enlightenment here, although you will need to put a certain effort into readying your mind for Shaman's Path to reveal its full rewards. If you're prepared to fully immerse yourself in it, Sabatini's exquisite production of otherworldly sounds seem to lead to heightened perceptions; previously peripheral noises like the low drones of "Extraction" coalesce into almost synaesthetic visions. But be warned: the foreboding atmosphere throughout means that if Shaman's Path is a vision of Africa, it's much more Joseph Conrad than Joe Claussell—an existential journey to the heart of darkness.