7/10 Jim Staff review, 31 October 2014
Schinichi Atobe was one of the most mysterious artists to release a record on Chain Reaction, one of techno’s most enigmatic labels. Set up in the mid 1990s by Basic Channel, the label released a series of 12”s and CDs (infamously packaged in destructive tins) by emerging producers whose experiments with minimal techno were taking them further away from a dance floor oriented sound towards a more abstract, hermetic aesthetic. Despite spawning an entire sub-genre of electronic music (dub-techno), those mesmerising Chain Reaction discs have rarely, if ever, been equalled since Atobe’s one and only 12” release in 2001. Hence the considerable excitement surrounding this release by Demdlike Stare, who apparently managed to track Atobe down and compile this album from an archive of unreleased material.
Listening to the album, you get the sense that the tracks might have been created over a fairly long period of time as they vary quite a lot in style and feel. The thing that is present throughout though is Atobe’s use of hypnotically enveloping textures that suck the listener into his immersive sound world. Highlights across the album for me include the shorter, more experimental tracks that punctuate some of the longer, jazz inflected deep-house numbers. For example, ‘Free Access Zone 3’, with its weird, phase-hollowed drone shot through with irregular percussive glitches, seems to appear and disappear too quickly. As does ‘Waste Land 2’, with its huge, churning looped chord motif sounding like an industrial strength Fluxion. And then there’s ‘Free Access Zone 7’, with its unfathomably deep and muffled reggae bassline, velvety filtered synths and ping-ponging syncopated delay patterns; a bliss-inducing reminder of why the original Chain Reaction sound was sometimes referred to as ‘Heroin House’.
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