Release Date: 11/04/13
This is the fourth outing for Developer’s Archive project, and the Modularz label head shows no signs of slowing down or diluting his take on functional Techno. The press release for the EP places Developer amongst the ‘re-surfacing and growing rise of American Techno’ and we are very much inclined to agree. But with the likes of Function, Audio Injection (Truncate) and DVS1 flying the flag for high quality state side Techno, it is no small task to stand up and be counted among them. However Developer’s ability to create beautifully wonky and melodic music whilst maintaining a firm focus on the dance floor is what really stands him apart from the fairly traditional, minimalist infused stylings of his contemporaries. His abilities as a producer have been tested much like his counterparts across the US, in a long battle for the music to stay alive and healthy, in the face of one of the toughest terrains for dance music in the world. With nearly two decades of promotion, label building, DJing and producing to his name it is no wonder that someone like Developer is able to release such consistently mesmerising dance music at such a high rate.
Kicking off with ‘The Galaxian’ Developer sets a tone of familiarly rugged, loop driven Techno, which does exactly what it says on the tin. ‘Moments of Clarity’ ramps up the energy adding textural maturity along with a strong, almost monolithic chord line. There are few cheap filter sweeps to be found here, instead the chords pummel the listener, whilst the bass line chugs along, interspersed with piercingly clear percussive variations. ‘Run for the Dark’ is again a fairly standard workout, being both short and sweet. Although, the vocal sample feels at times a bit derivative, with the creative quality of some of the other tracks being so high, it leaves this moment feeling slightly lazy. In a word, it is rather monotonous, definitely representing the weakest track on the release.
Ultimately the real gems on the EP are ‘Reaching’ and ‘Ursae Majoris’. Here Developer mangles the expectations of the listener, providing both a rhythmic and melodic uniqueness that is rarely heard in the genre. ‘Reaching’ is the more familiar of the two, characterized by an off kilter chord pattern, which slinks its way through as the backbone of the track, occasionally being complimented by flittering alterations in hi-hat patterns across its refreshingly short four minutes. ‘Ursae Majoris’ on the other hand is like nothing I’ve heard before, it is a truly outstanding track and is certainly the most interesting piece of Techno to arrive in our inbox this year. The rhythmic foundations are of course familiar, with brutal kick drums and crisp hi-hats, but it is the amorphous, atonal melodic structure which drifts throughout the track that is so intriguing. It is neither dark nor bright, and is somehow wonderfully melancholic. It sounds as if the record itself is completely warped, or being sped up and slowed down by an unwitting child, driven to the task by sheer boredom, and it sounds fantastic for it. It creates a brilliant ambiguity in mood, at times it is totally hypnotic and at others it almost feels like a prank. To see the reaction of a crowd on a packed dance floor would really be something to behold!
It is hard to fathom however how Modularz arrived with the given artwork for a release that is for the most part, a fairly dignified offering to the Techno community. We’ve made a point of highlighting sexism within the dance music community before, and it seems a shame that the Archive sleeves feel the need to resort to using female nudity, when they would probably sell just as well without.
This aside, the EP is very much consistent with the previous output in the Archive series, despite being often less dark and certainly more interesting. Some of the more familiar elements will work well for their intended uses on the dance floor. There is no shame in that, but when confronted with a track like ‘Ursae Majoris’, you can’t help but think Developer’s talents lie far beyond the admitted functionalism that is talked about in the press releases. There can, and often is a real musical creativity in his work, and its screams out to be explored more, in either an extended EP, or album format release.
Well, one can dream…