Aiming straight for the big rooms, Jay Clarke makes his debut on his own BLACKAXON label with four tracks of brooding yet highly polished menace. Drawing influence from the relatively insular confines of techno, Clarke weaves together a satisfyingly dramatic take on widescreen boom which sits squarely within the purist mold. “Vanishing Act” is a jaunty roller hinging on a jittery synth riff that brings to mind Robert Hood in a very bad mood. Motion is in constant play, with little breakdowns to build dynamic tension and a light use of filter effects that never stray into the garish territory. “The Black Lodge” is far darker — all hissing mechanization and hydraulic pump. A relatively restrained EQ job on the kick stops the track from becoming overbearing and, again, the clever use of understated effect work keeps a strong narrative drive as an insistent sub ducks around a carefully balanced mix.
The harshest is saved until last with Joe Farr’s remix of “The Chase,” built on a distorted, gabba-esque kick that would not have sounded out of place at some Rotterdam warehouse in 1995. However, the gabba comparisons end here as there is a positively orchestral vibe to the “The Chase” that sees a cacophony of well placed stabs and bleeps vying for attention against the grotty subterranean vibe; imagine a nightmarish chase through a fetid sewer pipe, albino alligator in hot pursuit. This is a remarkably assured debut, to be honest. And while it is relatively rare to find a new artist so well versed in cold calculated dance floor mechanics, Clarke’s history as a resident DJ for Void in London, myriad hours spent in the clubs, and all around borderline unhinged techno obsession, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. If you’re after well paced purist cuts, these fit the ticket admirably.