Voices from the Lake feat. Donato Dozzy & Neel: Voices from the Lake

Carrying on the estimable nautical traditions established by Drexciya and Porter Ricks, Voices from the Lake plays to some degree like the logical next chapter. The material produced by the two Italian DJ-producers, Donato Dozzy and Neel Rome, is as aquatic and techno-based as that of their predecessors, if not quite as genre-advancing or as stunning. Though it includes eleven indexed tracks, Voices from the Lake unfolds like a single, seventy-two-minute trip that features subtle change-ups when transitions from one track to the next occur. It's a subtle music, and one best served by an attentive headphones listen; played at a modest volume without headphones, the music might start to seem too unvarying, as its subtleties would go unnoticed. Think of it as ambient techno, then, no matter how oxymoronic such a pairing might seem—a music heavy on atmosphere, presence, and pulsation, with little pretense at being as floor-filling as your typical brand of rave-ready techno. The music flows fluidly and develops organically, and can lay legitimate claim to being both immersive and hypnotic.

A largely unwavering and bass-heavy 4/4 thump forms the album's steady undercurrent, over top of which the two producers layer all manner of textural elements, from bubbly funk patterns to the high-pitched chirp of micro-organisms. The result is a soothing, multi-layered mass that, in isolated moments, grows more energized and is all the more powerful when it is so; a gradual build-up occurs during “S.T. (VFTL Rework),” for example, that eventually blossoms into a steamy, multi-hued dub-techno episode that makes what comes before seem a tad undercooked by comparison. A subtle strain of acid sounds as if it's fighting its way to the surface of “In Giova,” but, here and elsewhere, Dozzy and Neel keep a tight hold on the controls and don't let the music stray too far in that direction. Though the album does grow stronger as it heads into its final third, some listeners might not be so patient as to stick around that long.

The percussive pitter-patter that surfaces during “Vega” and “Twins in Virgo” makes the connection to Porter Rick's Biokinetics all the more apparent, but it also explains why Voices from the Lake is the weaker of the two recordings. One thing that has helped Biokinetics hold up so well over time is that it includes a number of relatively short tracks in such a way that, although each one in isolation might be described as repetitive, the experience of listening to the album as a whole isn't boring when the scenery shifts dramatically from one piece to the next. Being essentially a singular (even if episodic) and uninterrupted whole renders Voices from the Lake less compelling by comparison. The recording does earn its recommendation, though it would do so more were it a little less long and a little more eventful.

March 2012