Signaling a return to dedication and credibility, Haul Music’s recent leap from digital to vinyl was an impressive milestone for Australian techno. For many years, the scene has been hurting for this kind of self-sufficiency. Of course, that was only the first step. Now they’re taking the next logical one: attracting big-name remixers. For their most recent digital EP, that name was Vince Watson, and on vinyl, Alex Smoke. Divinity is the label’s second 12″, and arguably its biggest release to date. It sees one of the imprint’s three founders, Craig McWhinney, appear alongside Echologist and American duo cv313, three of dub techno’s heavyweights and probable idols of his. Though evidently less well-known than his remixers, McWhinney proves worthy to stand alongside them. The eponymous track is filled with all of the usual dub touchstones — blanketing white noise, muffled kicks and submerged chords — but the finesse with which they’re assembled makes the end result worthwhile. Everything interlocks cogently, offering a truly immersive atmosphere. Still, the usual layman complaint against this kind of music is that it’s mere background noise, or just too static to be exciting. “Divinity” avoids these barbs nicely, soaring to restrained heights with the help of lengthy, pattering drum builds.
Brendon Moeller’s “Divine Intervention” as Echologist feels a touch more musical, or perhaps just less ethereal. This version adds a springy arpeggio, a small but crucial element in the heavier finish overall. Much of the time it struggles to be heard, but its gentle thrumming bolsters everything else perceptibly. Another difference is that while McWhinney’s cut is all about firm advancement, this one slashes a lot of the original’s constantly engaged percs for more unique and widely spaced frictive noises. As with Moeller’s past work, it’s a real triumph of details. Last, Rob Modell and Stephen Hitchell’s remix opens up the original and flushes it with air. In fact, there’s so much space the kicks barely register, hidden so far below swaths of swirling ambience as they are. It’s likely this one will fall into the background noise/too static category unless you’re a real dub enthusiast. The other two versions have definitive “moments,” i.e. the next time they’re heard they’ll elicit a “I remember this clever little section.” On the other hand, cv313’s sounds similar throughout. Despite this small misstep, Divinity is a laudable addition to Haul’s catalog and hopefully a harbinger of what’s to come.