As the collaborative venture between DeepChord’s Rod Modell and Soultek, aka Steve Hitchell, Echospace approximates an aesthetic amalgamation of three of dance music's epicenters: Modell’s Detroit, Hitchell’s Chicago and Berlin, the home of the Basic Channel collective, their most obvious reference point. Using vintage analog equipment exclusively, including the unparalleled sonic capabilities of the Roland Space Echo, Korg tape delay and Sequential 8 bit samplers, the duo have pulled an undulating mass of viscous ambience and driving beats from the machinery.
Over the course of its eighty-minute duration, the CD distills the vinyl releases into a current of sound that plays through as a single uninterrupted composition, transporting the listener to a bleak arctic soundscape that is raked by gales of reverberant sound and dotted here and there with frozen columns of bass. A jagged rhythm pounds away beneath the inhospitable tundra, struggling to break through to the surface, while geysers of pure sound hiss and steam their way through the cracks.
Delicately balancing between dancefloor euphoria and deep ambient immersion, the album is rife with tension. At times the equilibrium is lost, such as on 'Ocean Of Emptiness' or 'Winter In Seney', where the mix plunges into a deep fjord of aquatic echo and only a few knotty chords and stray rhythmic clicks struggle to maintain momentum. In other places, such as on 'Elysian', the beat thrusts through the thick pads and murky bass like a relentless engine á la Phylyp’s 'Trak' EP. In comparison with the rest of the album’s stark atmospherics, the closing track, 'Empyrean', comes across like a veritable sonic oasis with its skanking bassline, laid back riddim and generally chilled vibe. In fact, it’s the most overtly “dub” track that any of Deepchord’s cohorts have produced yet, recalling Deadbeat or Pole at their most direct.
'The Coldest Season' may ultimately lack in its ability to move a dancefloor, but, in terms of sheer quality, it rivals Basic Channel’s vaunted catalog. Put down that ultra-rare Basic Reshape 12” and check out what’s going on now. This album is bound to be one of the most fully realized listening experiences to grace your stereo this year, and is proof positive that DeepChord and Echospace are the rightful heirs to the dub techno legacy.