Ten Questions with Nicolay

Apricot Rail
Darcy James Argue
Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi
Félicia Atkinson
Atom TM
Black Jazz Consortium
Borghi and Teager
Kate Carr
Jace Clayton
Nicholas Cords
Cosmin TRG
Benjamin Damage
T. Dimuzio / Voice of Eye
Field Rotation
Stefan Goldmann
Good Luck Mr. Gorsky
Darren Harper
Chihei Hatakeyama
Jerusalem In My Heart
Marsen Jules
Philippe Lamy
Mary Lattimore
Linear Bells
Jay-Dea López
Andrew McPherson
Markus Mehr
Fabio Orsi & pimmon
Simian Mobile Disco
Colin Stetson
The Third Man
Simon Whetham

Compilations / Mixes
Art Department
Balance presents jozif
+FE Music: The Reworks
Ruede Hagelstein
Inscriptions Vol. 2
Rebel Rave 3
Your Victorian Breasts

EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Broken Chip
City of Satellites
Yann Novak
Simon Whetham

Benjamin Damage: Heliosphere
50 Weapons

Issued on Modeselektor's 50 Weapons, Benjamin Damage's solo debut, Heliosphere, can be an at times frustrating listen for the simple fact that its standout moments are diluted by the presence of some that are less striking, specifically, dancefloor tracks that, while on production grounds are unquestionably polished, come across as serviceable techno that lack the personality of the stronger pieces. The ten-track set sees Damage, a Welsh electronic producer currently residing in Berlin who recently garnered attention for a full-length collaboration with Doc Daneeka titled They! Live, attempting an encompassing fusion of Berghain- and Surgeon-styled techno and early Warp-flavoured IDM. A careful listen reveals that elements of acid, ambient, and dub-techno also figure into the mix.

If Heliosphere is anything, it's mercurial. It features a number of straight-up bangers, but also fare such as “Laika,” a hazily atmospheric techno cut that suggests some possible fusion of Surgeon and Plaid, and “Delirium Tremens,” a tripped-out techno dynamo whose pounding techno groove has Ostgut Ton written all over it. The warbly synths glimmering within thick haze in “Together” can't help but call Boards of Canada to mind, while the acidy spirals coursing through “Spirals,” on the other hand, wouldn't sound out of place on Plastikman's Consumed. “End Days” finds Damage situating his sound squarely within the current day, with sci-fi synths languidly swimming through a huge, crackling mass of hiss and static. Even the album cover hints that the album explores different sides of Damage's personality.

The album's peak moment arrives in the second track, “010x,” a muscular piledriver that's about as irresistible and perfectly realized a club track as one might hope to encounter. Goosed by a scratchy riff, the tune kicks into gear immediately with throbbing kick drums paired with slamming snares and sweetened with a classic house piano pattern. To hear the bass-powered material motoring with such fierce determination makes for the album's most memorable moment and one that leaves much of the rest of Heliosphere feeling secondary by comparison.

April 2013