A Review by Jason Gardiner
One of my favourite things about releases from Techgnosis is that they always seem to paint an epic science fiction backdrop in my mind as I listen to them, and this new compilation does exactly that with a lot of style and aplomb.
Techgnosis vol. 2 is an incredibly well thought out collection of some of the most forward-thinking Techno you’ll come across. Featuring some extremely talented producers from around the globe, it pulls off being excitingly eclectic while simultaneously having a strongly defined sound that is aligned with the Techgnosis sound.
The album opens with a gorgeous track by producer, Daäna (feat. Shadi) entitled, “Radiant Cool Eyes.” This track is comprised of lush, steamy synth pads and a dreamy, futuristic melody, underpinned by a driving beat to move it forward. It also has some tasty hints of old school Trance, in particular, the bass line.
The second track, Terrakroma’s “Miss Allison” creatively matches primal, organic-sounding percussion with the dark mechanical intensity brought on by its’ low synth tones. The stabs and drones of the vast, gritty bass make for an exotic and alien sound. This is further enhanced by the ingeniously quirky melody line which occasionally appears throughout.
Next up is “Unstoppable Harmonic” from Portuguese producer, Longalenga. This is a seriously funky, somewhat minimal tune with a bass line from straight out of a D&B or Grime track; an incredibly satisfying mix of sounds. Although, it is one of the more distinct tunes on the compilation, it cleverly incorporates hints of the Techgnosis sound as it progresses.
“Ostkreuz” by Alic is a buoyant, quirky jam that seems to combine sonic textures from different settings together into a single, wonderfully outlandish scene. The glitchy percussive shuffle coupled with the heavy, lumbering sound of the bass brought to mind images of broken clockwork robots that had gone back in time to party with the dinosaurs. The rustic, off-kilter string sound which carries the intriguingly angular melody brings the whole track together in a striking way as it enters.
Next is a massively hefty Techno track called “Njn” by Trilingo. Although a slightly slower, weightier tune, it manages to provide a particular contagious, bouncy energy as well. A fun and exciting track which would not feel out of place in a Psytrance set.
At exactly the halfway point through the compilation comes “Slomi” from Portuguese production duo, Flembaz. The kick in this tune is very sublimely designed; it is large and sub-heavy, yet adequately punchy. This composition also features strikingly creative percussion. Warm, feel-good synth pads build towards the track’s climax, with just enough juicy harmonic peculiarity to keep the listener hooked. “Slomi” truly is a showcase of the excellent compositional skill commanded by João Bandarra & Pedro R. Artur of Flembaz.
The seventh track is a remix of Ben Rama’s “Rooftop Hopping” by Nozem. This is a very interesting and fresh take on a classic tune. The percussion seems to be a bit tighter, and more restrained in this mix than in the original, making it darker and more intense in tone and texture. This effect is further enhanced by the pulsing sub bass of the delectably abyssal rolling bass line.
After that is Code Therapy’s remix of “Artificial Structures” by Stoertebeker. This remix features a lush breeze of atmospheric psychedelia and echoing sound effects which whisper closely in your ears as the bass line propels the tune forward. The inventive way in which Code Therapy has reshaped the bass part from the original track is truly inspiring.
Luis M’s “Freebird” is an intriguing mix of the airy, hypnotic aesthetic employed by certain types of minimal Techno, and the bubbling psychedelic squelches and punchy kicks of Psytrance. The wailing synth sound punctuating the different phrases help to set a tone of a hauntingly unsettling enthusiasm, drawing the listener in more each time.
As I listened to Ken Zo’s “Gordon Dawat,” I was immediately immersed in an atmospheric landscape, as the track is built on a mosaic of environmental samples, and stereo delay effects. The various bird sounds were a really nice touch. The percussion has a somewhat laid back feel, the dense, panning textures coupled with the onslaught of rolling sub bass created a relatively energetic experience. The piano was effectively dramatic, and made for a great counterpoint to the intense synthesizers.
Finally, we have MYDÄ’s remix of “Dust” by Zentrix. This remix adds an awesomely dark melody to the track, and completely reinvents the percussion, giving it a more lively and immediate vibe. The kick is kept somewhat reserved, leaving room in the mix for the dense synth textures which echo and sweep across the stereo field. A decidedly epic ending to the compilation.
Dark, melodic and minimal, Techgnosis Vol. 2 covers all the staples of the Techgnosis sound, and even hits some more eclectic influences which one might not expect. As always, the cover art by Alexander Synaptic is spot on which is invitingly mysterious as it depicts a industrial setting. A thoroughly enjoyable and unpredictable listen, it kept me utterly drawn-in until the end.
Compiled by Ben Rama
Original photography and design by Alexander Synaptic
1-10 mastered by Flembaz at Tripalle Studios
11 mastered by Charles MIchaud at Preference Mastering
Released in 2016 by Techgnosis Records