Versalife: Vantage Point
Clone West Coast Series

On his debut Versalife full-length Vantage Point, Boris Bunnik draws inspiration from the “horizons and emptiness” of his homeland in Friesland, northern Holland. It's hardly Bunnik's maiden voyage, however, as he's issued a number of recordings under other aliases, namely Conforce, Hexagon, Vernon Felicity, and Silent Harbour, and the fifty-three-minute collection was preceded by a string of twelve-inch Versalife releases on Clone's West Coast Series offshoot. Naturally, different styles are associated with the different monikers: Bunnik produces techno and dub-techno under the Conforce and Silent Harbour names, respectively, whereas electro-techno is the stylistic focus of Versalife.

“Subdomain” establishes the music's pristine, ice-cold surfaces and the general Versalife style: machine-generated electro-techno augmented by claps, whooshes, and percussive detail. With that ambient overture having fulfilled its purpose, Bunnik shifts the focus to Versalife as a beat-driven entity. The move occurs gradually, however, with “Sonic Signals” first introducing the style in laid-back manner with a moderate, cymbal-laden BPM a ground for layers of synthetic patterns. The album picks up more steam with the advent of the third track, “Recombinant Creations,” a sleek swirl of electro-techno that's comparatively more hyperactive than what's come before, and “Below the Horizon,” which receives some of its animated heft from the claps and chunky bass line accompanying its cymbals-heavy washes. The penultimate track, “Advancing Capabilities,” is arguably the album's punchiest, given the kinetic kick it receives from its aggressive groove, while “Normal Behavior” encapsulates the Versalife style in a single setting. It's a light-footed and breezy exercise, rhythmically speaking (despite a repeated tempo change that sees the regular BPM slowed to a crawl before springing back to life), with lots of atmospheric colour and electro squiggle featured alongside the rhythmic thrust.

The tracks include few (if any) non-machine-sourced sounds, making for a musical style that's thoroughly modern in its full embrace of technology while also admittedly cold and severe. Instead of hewing to a single style, Bunnik mixes things up by including both uptempo workouts and ambient-styled moodscapes. While the inclusion of the latter does slow the album's momentum (as happens when the ambient diversion “Further Corrections” surfaces five tracks into the album), it does make the album a more well-rounded affair as opposed to a monochromatic exercise.

March 2013