"Misaligned" and "Distracted" are lessons in nagging repetition, underpinned by tight, piston-pumping percussion. Like so many great techno artists, this professional mastering engineer is patient when he needs to be, but busy in the details. He understands the high drama you can wring from a tiny, split-second tweak to a filter or a beat. For instance, the whining central riff at the core of "Distracted" is left to do its thing, but the rhythm underneath is in constant flux, enveloped in bursts of distortion or interrupted by crashing hi-hats. Likewise, there is a sudden lift in tempo midway through "The Bwiti Initiate" that transforms the track, shifting its emphasis to its purring bassline. Suddenly, the track is lighter, brighter, altogether sexier.
There is more to Burchett's sound, though, than just technical prowess. Frames Of Reference is also melodically complex, from the spindly, insect-like phrases of "Dirtro II" to the monumental pads of closer "Self Deceit." It's also an album that makes dub techno's relationship with dub reggae unusually explicit. With its half-stepping rhythmic interplay, hazy pads and fractured, bleeping melody, the melancholy "Perplexed" could almost be a techno remix of an old King Tubby track.
Even when Burchett does something more obvious, it's nicely skewed. "Just Another Dance" is an ambient Detroit homage of spacey strings, juddering bleeps and vintage synths that is pure Derrick May, yet it features a quiet, rippling funk riff that Nile Rogers might have laid down for Daft Punk. Put simply, this is a techno album of real imagination and depth that, when it needs to be, is brutally functional.