The Third Man: Beyond The Heliosphere

Beyond The Heliosphere is a high-quality techno long-player from The Third Man (aka London-based producer Toby Leeming) that's even more impressive for being Leeming's first solo album. To some degree it wears its heart on its sleeve and isn't shy about making its influences known, with Detroit techno perhaps the most prominent of them. Traces of acid, dub-techno, dubstep, electro, and house also thread their way into the eleven tracks, but techno is clearly the music's spine.

The recording begins at a high level with the ebullient high-roller “Intro (Sleep It Off),” a Detroit influence evident in the music's kinetic glide. As evident is the fact that The Third Man's focus is as much on sophisticated sound design and arrangement as it is getting bodies moving. A given track is a multi-layered affair teeming with synthetic and percussive detail, and Leeming isn't averse to bringing an experimental dimension to even the most beat-based production.

Liquidy metallic chords lend “Double Dawn” a dub-techno vibe, while a similarly smeared attack adds to the acid-techno dynamism of “Betrayal of Another.” Dubstep threads its way into “A Hero Scene” in the seething bass presence Leeming drapes across the tune's hellacious pulse. Other settings, such as the dark ambient-techno excursion “Rise & Fall,” document Leeming's atmospheric side, while the ultra-dramatic “Battle for the Tabernacle” plunges the album full-bore into an electro-techno war zone. Beyond The Heliosphere's mood isn't always so dark, however, as shown by the jubilant spirit that gives “Lantern” such drive. If there's a number that captures the album's essence, it might be “The Tracker,” a bubbly and prototypically hyperactive barn-burner powered by a relentlessly pounding groove and a writhing bass synth.

The album's consistently high level of craft argues strongly on behalf of Leeming, who also partners with writing partner Tim Digby Bell in Duologue, as a confident and well-seasoned pro, someone at the top of his creative game and able to operate in different genres and styles with apparent ease.

April 2013