Hector & Bryant, Tension


[Phonica Records]

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Berlin’s Hardwax, that Berghain-staffed den of alluringly anonymous white labels, might be the vinyl emporium of the moment. But what about London’s Phonica? Resembling more a design-minded record nerd’s studio apartment than a storefront adjacent to a Soho parking garage, Phonica has built an international reputation not by genre affiliation but on the high quality of the wax lining its walls. As a very green DJ studying abroad a few years back, I received my unofficial techno education at the shop, saddling up at a listening station once or twice a week with an employee-curated stack of new 12″s. I returned to the States with two suitcases full of Phonica’s wares (and a decimated savings account), and the bulk of my purchases still sound fresh today. So it’s no surprise that “Tension,” the first release on the shop’s eponymous label, features some of the most finely honed, built-to-last dance music on the shelves right now (not to mention some of the prettiest packaging).

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A longtime Phonica employee and diligent DJ, Hector — collaborating here with Ben Bryant — has certainly upped his studio chops since “La Raza,” his ebullient but considerably less sophisticated 2008 debut on Horizontal. “Tension,” the kind of smooth, dubby burner that liebe*detail made famous, hardly reinvents the tech-house wheel. But Hector & Bryant, milking two tastefully epic breakdowns out of the template, have crafted one very special moment for after-hours dance floors. The stately A-side, however, offers little indication of the insanity to come. Abandoning the restrained sound the ex-Skull Disco boss has favored for his nascent Apple Pips label, Appleblim and Bristol up-and-comer Al Tourettes have inexplicably re-imagined “Tension” as a bona-fide technoid party anthem. Frankly, I can’t believe more tech-dubstep producers aren’t similarly eschewing the two-step-and-Basic Channel preset and opening up their sound to such bold, unhinged, and wholly unpredictable rumbling. But here’s to hoping this ambitious, Koze-like melding of the ecstatic, the accessible, and the absurd sets a trend.

captain you  on June 1, 2009 at 8:35 AM

always good news to see new labels coming through in this recession/vinyl hora zero times
but this first release doesn’t live up to the expectations for me


Little White Earbuds May Charts - Little White Earbuds  on June 4, 2009 at 10:14 PM

[…] Bittersweet Mix) [M├ętisse] 04. Gravious, “Jupiter Jazz” [Highpoint Lowlife] 05. Hector & Bryant, “Tension” (Appleblim & Al Tourettes remix) [Phonica Records] 06. Luciano & Guy Gerber, “Arcenciel” [Cadenza] 07. King Midas […]

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