Slpwlkr: Close Your Eyes
Black String Records

Vowel-averse his Slpwlkr project might be, but Italian-born and London-based Claudio Ambruoso is otherwise a deft hand at crafting a subterranean brand of techno equally committed to listening and dancing modes. Issued on the upstart Black String Records imprint, the debut Slpwlkr album is specifically conceived in accordance with the digital label's aim: to provide a platform for artists to test the boundaries of techno and explore the degree to which its conventions can be challenged. With that in mind, Ambruoso deliberately opted for the full-length format over the EP or single in order to encourage a more immersive and wide-ranging listening experience—an idea reinforced by the choice of album title, too.

Track names are handled simply, with each of the nine titled “Dream no.1,” “Dream no.2,” and so on, with Ambruoso presumably not wishing to influence the listener's impressions of the material in even the slightest way. Skeletal beat patterns and cavernous rumbles emerge within Ambruoso's dark, synthesizer-heavy soundscapes, and the typical Slpwlkr track is a raw and grime-coated affair that reverberates with dystopic portent.

Smothered in a shroud of granular noise, “Dream no.4” gradually introduces a pounding kick drum to draw a direct line from Slpwlkr to underground Berlin techno, while the ambient swells that drift through “Dream no.5,” “Dream no.7,” and, at eleven minutes, the especially vaporous “Dream no.9” push the textural dimension of the Slpwlkr sound to a blurry extreme. The album's mood isn't unrelentingly gloomy, however. “Dream no.3,” for example, allows some degree of light to penetrate its underground tunnel in the form of glimmering synth chords—even if the moment passes quickly. Think of Close Your Eyes as forty-two minutes of subterranean art techno that one might file comfortably alongside releases by Deepchord, Fluxion, cv313, Brendon Moeller, Resoe, and others of their kind.

July 2014