Audision, Surface To Surface

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Among the Vince Watsons and Arne Weinbergs that slot comfortably into the “Neo-Detroit” section on the Hardwax website, Audision are probably one of the less well known. “Gamma Limit,” “Vanish” and their exceptional, bass-heavy remix of Tensnake’s “Around The House” are all minor classics in their hometown of Hamburg, but the pair have struggled for recognition elsewhere. This may be because they wear their influences so shamelessly on their sleeves. Why buy the copy when the original is easily available? Even their press blurb admits Niko Tzoukmanis and Tobias Schmid bonded over a shared love of Basic Channel and classic Detroit techno, inspirations that are frequently all too apparent on debut album Surface To Surface.

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Classic Detroit techno here mostly means Derrick May, and his shadow falls especially long over the first couple of tracks. “FFM By Night” and “Prelude” strive for the suspense the “Intervals” created by May on the legendary Relics — A Transmat Compilation, but where May had the good sense to limit these scraps of inspiration to less than a minute, Audision foolishly stretch them out for over eight and six minutes respectively. “Aurora” continues the ambient tone, initially sparkling with a “Computer Love” melody, but again the pair don’t do enough to justify the generous six and a half minutes they afforded it. Audision evidently work better with a kick drum, and the previous Mule Electronic single “Red Sky” with its jagged riff challenges Ribn’s “Mined” for the title of 2009’s best dub-techno stomper. That the following track “Phase Flow” sounds like a remix of its predecessor is, depending on taste, a tribute to the album’s consistency and programming, or an indictment of its homogeneity. “Mind Journey” is the one track to buck this trend, with what must be the first Bodycode tribute track, as chattering, incomprehensible vocals are smothered by a wistful melody and a so-vintage-it’s-broken drum machine.

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Audision unwittingly fall into the classic techno album trap. In a bid to make a well-rounded effort that highlights both the deep and kicking club tracks that were their previous strength (“Outside My Window” being a particularly strong example) and the ambient sketches that might appease what Boomkat likes to term “the home listening crowd,” Audision largely fall short on both counts. Surface To Surface is by no means a bad record. Its homages are made with good taste and intentions, but ultimately is nowhere near creative enough to distinguish itself from the pack of Motor City epigones out there.

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