Charlotte de Witte: Vision EP (12″, Figure, February 2020)

I don’t buy a lot of 12″s or EPs. Partly, this is because I seem to really like the album as a format — I like the feeling of handing over control of my listening to an artist for an hour or so — but, to be honest, it’s mostly because I have enough trouble keeping track of the albums I’m interested in at any given point and there are just so many 12″s out there.

But I made an exception for this because I listened to it kind of by accident and it was just too damned satisfying to pass over. Also, it does feel like it’s a carefully sequenced record rather than just a collection of tracks, so (I rationalize to myself) what does it matter if it’s only 24 minutes?

I am, obviously, rubbish at genres. I can sometimes put a prefix in front of the word “techno”, like “acid” or “dub” or “first-generation Detroit” or or or. I don’t have a prefix for this. Essentially, this is what I think of when I just think of techno. It’s good and hard without being punishing, stripped back without being minimal, and dark without being bleak. Maybe I should call it proper techno?

The title track sets the tone from the get-go with what I suppose we’ll call a proper techno kick drum (I clocked it at 136 bpm), a really pleasing crunching sound hovering just off the beat, and a really subtle plinky-plonky you kind of have to strain to hear… then a kind of a honk introduces the snare… and it layers and layers… and the kick drops out for eight bars… and with a crash everything comes back together and the filters open out and that bit of my brain says there we go! And we’re off.

The second track, Out Of Balance, has more synth on it, although it’s thwacked about to within an inch of its life, and reminds me alternately of second-generation Detroit and a heavier version of Tamphex-era Aphex. On the flip side, the Kangding Ray remix of Unthoughtful is the most melodic track here, with a kind of gently euphoric synth line floating in around the two minute mark, and it’s pretty delightful, lifting things nicely without ever trying to take over. Things are closed out nicely with the original version of Unthoughtful, easily the most laid-back and moody number here.

So, yeah, I don’t intend to make a habit of buying EPs any time soon, and you can still pry the album format from my cold, dead hands… but for production like this I am very happy to make an exception.

I bought this from Juno. They call it Techno.

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