VA: Embark 05

Like a well-oiled machine, the Traum Schallplatten sub-label Trapez has been issuing clubby techno with clockwork consistency since its emergence fifteen years ago. Embark 05 offers an excellent snapshot of the Berlin-based imprint's sound, given that it's comprised of material Trapez issued during the past year. One of the nicer things about the release is that it includes both a ninety-minute mix and the fifteen individual tracks Riley Reinhold (aka Triple R) used to create it. Some artists appear once whereas others are represented multiple times; Nicolas Bougaïeff and Alex Under, for example, make two appearances apiece, whereas Fractious and Van Bonn are each accorded three of the fifteen slots.

Bougaïeff's artful “Ultra Spine” gets things off on the good foot with a radiant swinger sprinkled with all manner of synthetic flurries and shimmering harp strums. Like many of the release's cuts, “Ultra Spine” repeatedly works itself into a controlled frenzy, and one of the primary pleasures for the listener involves watching Bougaïeff subtly ease the tension before snapping the track's tight groove back into position. Wiry, raw, and charging forth with single-minded determination, the Dema & Paride Saraceni high-rolling remix of TEKART's “Knob” offers a perfect example of Trapez's crisp techno style. Frothy techno floor-fillers are plentiful in number, among them Paride Saraceni & Stiv Hey's effervescent “Syntharum” and “Downtown” and Bougaïeff's electro-fied closer “Pulse Train.”

It's always amazing to witness the endlessly imaginative twists techno producers sneak into their productions, a case in point Alex Under, who distinguishes “El Reloj” with wild vocal treatments without sacrificing any of the tune's rhythmic punch. And speaking of punch, many of the release's kinetic rumblers, such as Raíz's pummeling makeover of JAK's “Cyclo Drive,” are muscular in the extreme. Anything but morose, the music's spirit is jubilant and carefree, and the thumping grooves swing breezily from start to finish. Reinhold himself has said, “Trapez stands for clublife, sweat, and beats,” things for which Embark 05 offers ample support.

April 2015