At a time when so many techno artists are hewing to the sound of early Downwards releases, the tracks here, while hardly shy of industrial grit, are more stylistically balanced. The rough-cut drums that barrel through Surgeon's "Fixed Action Pattern" are overlaid with billowing washes of melody that sound straight out of a gothic cathedral. The kicks in Ø [Phase]'s "Insectoid" are cast from scabrous concrete, but this belies how well-formed the track is overall. Everything is finely judged, from the strung-out pizzicato that leads the track, through to its arrangement, which unfolds like a sequence from a film.
Each track here feels totally individual. The most obvious example of this is Planetary Assault Systems' "The 808 Track (Parts 1 and 2)." On the surface this is the most straightforward track on the record, but in a way it's also the most leftfield, pairing the hyperactive energy of its vulcanised drum sounds with an overall vacancy that leaves it feeling downright weird. Rødhåd's "Haumea" is carried by a hypnotic, undulating bassline, as flashes of sound glint like light through a keyhole. On Lucy's "Sana Sana," syncopated cross-rhythms rub up against each other, while a stone-faced kick and hi-hat drop in and out, pushing the track with an unflinching momentum.
Even if these productions are intended for club use, the compilation works remarkably well as a front-to-back listening experience, and especially as a showcase of what this crew are about. Listening to Aphelion, it's pretty clear how Token became one of techno's main powerhouses.
Fri / 19 Dec 2014
01. Ø [Phase] - Insectoid
02. Lucy - Sana Sana Sana Cura Cura Cura
03. Ctrls - x.y
04. Rødhåd - Haumea
05. Planetary Assault Systems - The 808 Track (Parts 1 and 2)
06. James Ruskin - No Trace
07. Surgeon - Fixed Action Pattern
08. Inigo Kennedy - Arcing
09. Karenn - Pace Yourself