Thursday, 11 August 2016

Review: Buck "Subterranean Explorations" (Substrato sub002)

This is the second vinyl release on the new Italian label Substrato and a sign of the health and innovation of the Italian scene generally. The mountain-themed artwork and geological aspect of the label concept continue a vein of spatial, conceptual, Italian techno already apparent in the work of Giorgio Gigli and others. Buck is the alias of Substrato owner Alessandro Stefanio, who also records as OL-047 and Slick Station.

The title of the opening 'Ambient Progression' isn't an accurate indicator of what's to come. It's cavernous and relentless from the start, techno on a grand, panoramic scale. It's less than seven minutes, but due to its use of deceleration and acceleration and textural variation, it feels lengthier, in the best sense. At one point an industrialised Moroderesque sequence comes to the fore and in the final section a stricter and more minimalistic mood asserts itself. Its only fault is that it casts a long shadow that the following tracks can't quite escape from.

'Atmo 003' is slower and more introspective. Its coldly futuristic atmosphere brings to mind the work of the legendary Vapourspace project from two decades previously.

The beats drop away for 'On Board', which is a more beatific ambient piece. Symphonic chords and layered, processed voices are used to create an atmospheric soundscape.

Dutch duo Artefakt shift the mood again with an optimistic, uptempo remix of 'On Board', which initially discards the ambient wash of the original in favour of a bassline-driven linear agenda. As it proceeds the ambience of the original is gradually brought back in and finally re-asserts itself.

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