Terence Fixmer: Depth Charged

Terence Fixmer's fifth solo album, Depth Charged, is eerie art-techno of a particularly high order. A long time coming, the fifty-minute collection (issued on Chris Liebing's CLR imprint) arrives more than four years after the release of the French producer's previous album, Comedy Of Menace (Electric Deluxe). While Fixmer describes Depth Charged as “his most introspective album yet,” it's hardly lacking in dancefloor oomph, and listeners with a taste for techno's dark, industrial side (releases on Gravite and Ostgut Ton come to mind) will find much to admire about Fixmer's latest opus.

“Ellipse” establishes a dark tone for Depth Charged with an industrial-strength plunge into a cavernous, grime-coated basement where slow, bulldozing rhythms pulsate and haunted synth atmospherics abound. With Fixmer's album now located in the dark underground, “Fleeting Beauty” rolls out a fleet-footed techno groove smothered in fluttering clicks and ominous bass swells and shadowed by a vaporous ambient-drone.

Eerie his material may be, but it's also tailor-made for the club floor, as exemplified by the relentless and sleek 4/4 of “Unforeseen” and “Pallid Light.” “Inside of Me,” which Marcel Dettmann selected for his Fabric 77 mix, is as club-focused, but creepy too in the way it strafes its militant kick drum pattern with unsettling vocal accents (as if to accentuate his music's disturbing bent, Fixmer follows it with the related “Outside of Me,” which strips out the beats altogether and shifts the focus entirely to its horror show keyboards). A tad more light floods the space during “Thoughts” in the form of sweeping synth textures and a rollicking, dub-inflected groove.

But as muscular and physical as his music is, it's sophisticated and artful, too, with Fixmer bringing a tasteful command of sound design to even the rawest club number. He also goes out of his way to give Depth Charged an album feel by threading moments of more atmospheric character into the set-list, one example being “Purity” and its three minutes of synth-heavy sound exploration.

February 2015