Egbert: Warm
Gem Records

Warm isn't a poor choice for the title of Dutch techno-house producer Egbert Van Der Gugten's album, though others might have been better—velocity, for one, given that the recording achieves lift-off in its first moments and pretty much remains there for the duration, the atmospheric ambient postlude, “Trip,” the exception. Momentum would be another, considering how there's hardly a single lapse during the fifty-seven-minute set; once the album locks into position, it does so unwaveringly from start to finish.

If Egbert's melodic techno is warm, it's bright and accessible, too, as “Fonkel,” the album's bubbly opener proves. Charging from the gate with a rolling, nimble-footed groove and a roiling bass pulse, the tune gallops with fierce determination, its thrumming percussion augmented by string washes. Quietly euphoric, the cut's swing never lets up, and consequently the transition into “Magic Night—despite subtle alterations in sound design (a female's repeated voicing of the title, for instance)—occurs almost unnoticeably. In other instances, however, there are dramatic shifts that cue the listener to the next cut's arrival. Shimmering house chords and percussive snaps help announce the onset of “Hemelpoort,” which sparkles with a radiant, rave-ready quality one associates with trance. Five songs into the set, “Gevoel (Interlude)” gives the listener two minutes to catch his/her breath before the breathless pace resumes when the epic splendour of “Naar De Ruimte En Terug” and kinetic drive of “Ondergronds” take over.

While Egbert's is an oft-hard-grooving sound, it's neither heavy nor lugubrious. Even relatively raw tracks that pump with the greatest degree of fury (e.g., “Shulgin”) still exude a free-flowing buoyancy and uplifting spirit. Bolstering the recording's flow, Egbert sequences the album so that each track bleeds into the one following, a move that gives Warm the character of a live mix, even if all of its tracks are Egbert originals. If anything, the recording exudes such a powerful live feel, the absence of crowd noise begins to seem like a curious omission.

November 2013