T_st & Dronelock: The Eternal Now
Sphere Gear

Techno productions are usually created by either individual artists or duos, which makes T_st & Dronelock's The Eternal Now something of an anomaly. For this project four individuals come together—the Bradford-based duo of Martin Cartledge and Alexander Church (Dronelock) and Armenian born-and-raised friends Davit Sukiasian and Garik Apinian (T_st)—though not in such a way that they get in the way of one another. If anything, the four have produced a sixty-four-minute collection of melodic experimental techno that speaks positively on behalf of cultural and collaborative partnerships in general.

The four approach The Eternal Now very much in the spirit of a full artist album by opening it with the requisite ethereal intro (“Aqua Prelude”) and sequencing the twelve tracks that follow as a wide-ranging, multi-scenic travelogue. They flex muscular dancefloor chops in the album's first formal cut, “No Sleep, No Dreams,” a punchy throwdown as rich in bass throb as sweeping textural atmospherics, and in impressively developed productions such as “RT1 Montibus” and the Moroccan-tinted “Syringa x Persica.” With so much sonic detail on display, it's easy to picture the four onstage, feverishly generating the music in real-time from their respective workstations.

With the collaborators bringing diverse backgrounds to the project, it doesn't surprise that ample stylistic ground is covered. Techno might be the foundation, but ambient, dub, industrial, and house also seep into the material. And while rhythm is a similarly fundamental concern (see “Further Than You Thought” and “RT2 Anemoi,” arguably the recording's most dancefloor-ready offerings), the recording is more than a string of thudding 4/4 bangers, something never more evident than when the entrancing ambient setting “Inbetween the Mirrors” surfaces nine tracks into the release.

Melody and textural design are central concerns, and the tracks are consistently elevated by the wealth of detail the four work into their arrangements. Surprisingly so given its title, “Virtues of Venom” exudes a sunny, uplifting vibe thanks to its melodic content, and the crackle and thrum that peppers both “Navzike” and the title cut's spiraling house pulse hint that The Eternal Now would sound as much at home on Raster-Noton as Sphere Gear.

July-August 2015