Franco Cangelli: Mondo Guasto

Ozka: Phutro

Johan Fotmeijer: Critters

Operating out of Gent, Belgium, Franco Cangelli and Dj Akî's Aesthetik Records makes an auspicious debut with three EPs that reveal strong ties to classic Detroit techno. There's an undeniably liquid, even aquatic, quality to the label's first release, Cangelli's Mondo Guasto. Sure, there's the requisite driving techno rhythms, but there's also all manner of burbling noises and bright glissandi. “Dysfunctional” swizzles and percolates as much as swings, while squiggly pistons fire on all cylinders throughout the eight-minute “Work It Out.” “The Happy Life Implant” cools the pace though even here the activity level builds to an intricate criss-cross of alien gulping noises and jittery pulsations. Cangelli peppers Mondo Guasto 's rhythms with a non-stop barrage of tiny particles and flitting micro-organisms.

A Motor City stormer (“Indulge”) immediately kicks Ozka's (David Nizet) Phutro into high gear. Listen closely, though, and subtle details come into focus, like the almost imperceptibly slow rise of clockwork patterns in “Criminal” and the house-tinged swing that the swishing patterns bring to the piece. Aesthetik's second EP is refined, precision-tooled techno that oozes locomotive bliss one moment (“Criminal”) and propulsive, space-age euphoria the next (“Phuture”).

Swedish techno producer Johan Fotmeijer's Critters is an altogether different sort of animal, with the A side offering a particularly bizarre ride. The bleepy jack of “Critters” wends a largely untroubled route until it's hijacked by an anguished voice that repeatedly screams “Did you see it?” Håkan Libdo's remix is even more twisted, with the original's vocal joined by an off-kilter array of snare slams and grinding croaks. The B-side's dub-techno atmospheres seem positively benign when heard after the first two oddities, but the closing pair's quieter chill isn't in any way unwelcome.

December 2006