Cassegrain, Tiamat


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Though it never states as much, Angus Finlayson’s mid-February Resident Advisor feature lends itself to something that anyone paying attention has known for some time now: premier, hard-nosed European techno is no longer just a Berlin thing. The bleakness has coalesced, seeping across the continent in a manner that has rendered the term “techno capital” rather null. And this isn’t discrediting the German hub — there’s still an abundance of choice product emanating from there, obviously. But seeing as diversity is the spice of life, it’s refreshing to not be forced to turn an eye to a particular locale for guidance before the rest are allowed to follow suit. As such, we have Cassegrain — a duo consisting of Greece’s Alex Tsiridis and Austrian composer Hüseyin Evirgen, who originally met each other at the Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona — releasing a double EP’s worth of gut-punch techno on Munich label Prologue. See? Global diversity.

And while Tiamat is not a flawless release, it serves as a sufficient state of the techno union address, 40-minutes of menacing atmospherics included. A headrush undulation sucks you directly into and under the proceedings on the properly disarming opener “Taiga.” Before you know it, the beat has dissolved by way of sheer groundswell and you’re fully submerged, forced clanking down a hollow drainpipe. “Joule” ups the tempo but remains as unnerving thanks to a lull-into-hypnosis repetitive wood knock and some off-color “Psycho” theme stabs. Whereas “Taiga” rolled in reverse, engulfing itself, “Turn Aside” plays like a landslide, caving ever forward and gathering caked layers of mud along its path. It doesn’t necessarily go anywhere, but the core crunch is affecting enough. Diverging from the momentum-dictated linear nature of the aforementioned is the title track, a stand-out amongst the lot. A sprightly backbone rattle is layered onto a bit of white-noise, indicating possibly more of the same, before being overtaken by some air raid dissonance. That it comes across as unsettling in this gaunt collection speaks to its effectiveness.

As I noted, though, all six tracks aren’t home runs: “Task” is a to-and-fro analogous wash and “Ignite” plays like much of the rest except lacking any discernible flourishes. But upon their arrival at the tail end of the final side, the damage has already impacted. Prologue has existed on the forefront of fringe proprietors of alien techno for a couple years now, and seeing as their specialty brand is earning sudden shine via this decentralized shuffling of the well-worn depth chart, they’ll be an imprint worth keeping an eye on in the coming months. And that they’ve found a pair of promising upstarts in Cassegrain to lead this charge seems near invaluable.

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