Just after his first album dropped in 2013, Tilliander told Attack Magazine, "My plan is not to turn TM404 into yet another main floor act or into DJ tool techno 12-inches. This is about something else." With that, he meant a self-titled album of slow, exploratory dub atmospheres, full of elegantly reserved acid lines, each sound lapsing patiently over the next. Now, after a few years of developing this style in live settings, the second TM404 album, Acidub, wants to resonate beyond pure headspace.
Though definitely not techno tools, the eight tracks on Acidub feel like they're constructed either from or for a live set on the dance floor. Textures have a muscled storminess to them and tempos are faster than usual, with half the album reaching 120 BPM (most of his earlier work is 100 BPM or slower). This makes for Acidub's best tracks. On "Pade," a rolling groove barrels into turbulent layers of grey, with each new bleary detail adding pressure to the system. "MP4 Ende" is weighty dub and deep techno at once, but switches between the two like water turning to steam. "Alinge," one of the album's spacier tracks, has a sort of subliminal rhythm to it, its elastic bass tones oscillating through the ether.
Other parts of the album show Tilliander in slower, more exploratory mode. "Sapto" is thick and melting, stewing at the intersection of heavy dub and galactic acid. "Mutron Mantra" takes a similar but less successful approach to a darker, more sinister sound. On "Don't Defend The Mascot," 11 minutes of weird, delicate details wiggle their way into the spotlight, then vanish. As pristinely crafted as this all is, the results are often underwhelming. Much of Acidub demands attention to a fault—if you're not committed to subtle shifts and details, it's easy for the music to fall out of focus. At times, it feels like a solemn parade of synthesizer sounds without a story.
Until now, most TM404 track titles took the name of the machines that made them (e.g. "202/303/303/303/606/606"). Acidub opts out of this, making tunes somewhat easier to recall, but moving away from a more striking idea. The music does the same. Acidub has its solid moments of dance music and weird hardware experiments, but the rest hovers in an unsatisfying middleground.