Two generations of techno meet on this rudimentary EP.
Chris Liebing / Charlotte de Witte - Liquid Slow EP
Chis Liebing was pioneering business techno years before it found a name. CLR, an acronym for Create Learn Realize, may have been the style's first conglomerate. Based in Frankfurt, Liebing founded the former powerhouse after he moved on from the relentlessly hard and fast schranz style he helped shape throughout the '90s. CLR might've been the first techno operation to encompass a label, booking agency and popular podcast series, all connected by a clear visual and sonic brand. (These days, these multi-faceted operations—Afterlife, Ostgut Ton—are common.) Musically, the sound supplied by artists like Joseph Capriati and Alex Bau was the opposite of subtle, though the label had interesting moments (Traversable Wormhole, Tommy Four Seven). Its most popular period began in the mid-'00s, which was around the time DJs from another German institution, Berghain, began spreading a slower, more nuanced style of techno. As the likes of Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock made techno smarter, tracks like Brian Sanhaji's "Higgs," all white noise and synth shrieks, dumbed it down.
The same could be said of Liquid Slow, Liebing's new collaboration with Charlotte de Witte. Released on de Witte's new label, KNTXT, both tracks are unexciting takes on acid techno, though deeper than a lot of what these artists release. "Liquid Slow" features vocals—"deep, clear, liquid, slow"—so basic that they must've been improvised, looping over bleeps and snare rolls. "In Memory" is similarly moody with its sustained, melancholic chord. There's a genuine sense of tension, which makes this track a more original option for DJs. But as producers in Copenhagen, Berlin and Manchester take techno to exciting places, releases like Liquid Slow represent the style in its most rudimentary form.