Much the same can be said of young Boris Bunnik, AKA Conforce, and his musical output to date, the latest chapter of which, his debut LP, was conceived at an equally hefty geographical remove (Leeuwarden, Holland), and achieves impressively era-conflating results. His method, one which Machine Conspiracy demonstrates ably, is to marry the classic sound(s) of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Carl Craig to the altogether sparser, more puritanical aesthetics of post-Basic Channel dub techno (most notably Chain Reaction and Modern Love), with added intonations of vintage Chicago and Eurocentric tech house. Opener "The Land of the Highway" says it all, coming off like the bastard child of Andy Stott, Monolake and Theo Parrish: an effervescent amalgam of techno's past and present that's as Hi-Tek Soul as it is Hard Wax, and refreshingly free of baggage to boot.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Bunnik's "agenda," the influence of Stott's label mate, occasional partner-in-crime and fellow canon-raider Claro Intelecto is evident throughout. "Love Hate," the album's centerpiece and flagship single, recalls the hazy melancholy of his epic, endlessly morphing "When The Time Is Right," while the AI-esque electro leanings of "Robotic Arm Wrestle" and "First Impression" (for my money the album's strongest number) hark back to the robotic breakbeat semantics of Neurofibro and The Section EP. Meanwhile, the subtly oppressive bass mechanics of "Subtraction" and "Intimidation" pay homage to the Mancunian's superlative Warehouse Sessions series, oozing and curdling like dub-soaked lava.
But this is no exercise in mimicry. Rather, it's the sound of a technically gifted but nascent producer taking stock of his surroundings and painting a mature, respectful, commendably honest picture of where he's at. That Bunnik's engineering is so adept, this is a beautifully produced album, lends what could have been a merely formative exercise a palpable sense of depth, and, in the case of the final two pieces, "Rare Education" and the brooding "Stop Hold," real momentum too. As with his excellent Cruising EP, both tracks hint at something bigger and bolder, perpetually building but never quite peaking, and make for a compelling conclusion to an LP that marks Conforce out as a genuine (albeit distant) carrier of the Motor City flame.