Luke Standing was previously one of the brightest (or considering his music, deliciously dark) stars in the ongoing Bristol techno movement, although a recent relocation to Hamburg places his music in a new, more challenging context. With the producer known as Furesshu now in a techno city, so to speak, he no longer has the advantage of being one of the few producers pushing techno in a place otherwise recognized for dubstep. But the implications remain to be seen; I would wager that Downstate — released on Brendon Moeller’s Steadfast label — was made quite a while back, because it easily fits alongside the producer’s recent work. Which, given the quality of his output so far, is certainly a good thing.
First things first: “Downstate” might be stamped with the Steadfast logo but it’s nowhere even close to dub techno, so get that thought out of your mind. It’s actually one of the darkest, most fundamentalist tracks the young producer has yet released, taking his signature dancing breakbeats and suspending them in uncomfortably stark nakedness. There’s not much reverb to be found and not much in the way of momentum either, with the kick drum plodding away out of obligation and a brave little hi-hat left to drive the song forward on the weight of its tiny and stressed steel frame. “Downstate” really proves how absence can render the tiniest things exciting — each brief spore cloud of sampled melody burns as bright as a star — and its minimalism makes a case for subtlety and restraint at a time when chauvinistically thrusting techno is all the rage.
Moeller handles the flipside for his “Acid State Remix,” wherein he gives the kick some club-ready oomph, endowing “Downstate” with the kind of elephantine power that the original deliberately lacked. Playing with the breakbeat, the hypnotic and looping elements of the original are turned into a stilted and taunting melody, turning into one of Moeller’s most straightforward and least subtle productions in recent memory. After a string of releases heavy on the Moeller (and dub techno elements too), Downstate feels like the start of a promising new phase for Steadfast, and the fact that it’s being triggered by a producer like Furesshu says a lot for the English producer’s range, dexterity, and bright future. Luke, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Bristol anymore.