Label: Modular Expansion
Release Date: 03/06/13
Ekhowax is only Geroge Apergis’s fifth release, but his long history as a DJ and promoter brings a sophisticated and knowing touch to proceedings here. Arpegis runs Athen-based Modular Expansion, another fine outpost of European Techno, the diversity of which is well exemplified on Ekhowax, which traverses minimal, Dub-Techno, melodic turns, and harder strains of the genre. Modular Expansion as a label is a new creation, but there’s nothing naïve about it – Apergis has been putting on events under the name for fifteen years, and so he brings to the label a certain meticulousness that only develops after a prolonged exposure to a certain sound. Despite this being the fourth release of the year, the label is extremely well curated with each pick feeling measured, my personal favourite being Homme’s elegant LP Realization for the Ear. Apergis has enlisted a small group of extras including Birth of Frequency and Truncate for Ekhowax, which suggests that while the label has mainly been a conduit for his own releases, Modular Expansion tells a story which Apergis can’t tell alone.
Apergis’s press release claims that Ekhowax ‘expands the artists‘ club vision of his early Detroit releases into a Dub-Techno territory’, and such a synopsis is hard to argue with. The original’s plush textures recall the perfectionism of Robert Henke’s releases as Monolake, and the vocal snippet could have been plucked straight from a Planet E or Minus release. While NX1’s remix emphasises the dubbier end of things, it stills carries the propulsion of the original and doesn’t slip into the meditative mood that characterizes much Dub-Techno. It’s a bit formulaic on its own, but it has enough energy to work within a DJ set and by no means seriously compromises the quality of the release. Birth of Frequency’s mix is a few more steps away from the original, overdubbing a basic framework (for much of the track just a 4/4 kick) with what sounds like a futuristic church organ solo. It’s the sort of techno that you could listen to for hours, music which ought to soundtrack the tunnel of lights scene towards the end of Kubrick’s 2001, with the slowly mutating arpeggio accompanied by percussion which is occasionally either added to or subtracted from.
However pick of the remixes is the one closest to the original. Truncate’s rework gives the kick drum a tremendous bounce, and again grants prominence to the vocal snippet whilst giving it an extra sense of urgency. On a pair of bedroom monitors the bass frequencies hurl themselves at you and force their way into your torso. It’s quite remarkable, and I’d be happy to hear the stripped back final minute - where the forceful percussion is cut loose from the shackles of tonality - last a lot longer.
12”s comprising a single track and a collection of remixes can often feel like a raw deal and at worst a commercial tactic, but given Apergis’s prolific output this year it’d be hard to accuse him of laziness. Anyway, each remix here is a solid tool, with Truncate’s in particular deserving merit as a standalone achievement.