In nautical terms, a “beat to quarters” was a loud drum pattern designed to signal a ship’s crew to prepare for battle. Given the historical background, this new EP from Chicago-based producer Jeff Derringer, promoter of the well regarded New York and Chicago Oktave parties, is a suitably brutal affair that will no doubt marshal the troops in fine fashion, delivering increasingly poky techno across four cuts. Opening with the original mix of “Beat to Quarters,” Derringer combines booming kicks with acidic stabs and cutting hat patterns alongside a reverb-heavy filtered woodblock. This is heavy-duty acidic gear made for the peak-time floor, and the sense of motion is carried forward at a cool pace with well-placed stabs delivering call and response, like a red-coated Hornblower saluting a passing ship of the line. Giorgio Gigli offers a pounding, heads-down “Variation” on the flip, with an emphasis on stern subs and brutal beat work upping the menace ante somewhat.
“The Stranger” is less interesting, however. The constant stabs and ride symbol crashes build an overly busy picture that could do with a little more breathing space, while the harsh acidic palette is overburdened with a fitful stream of headache-inducing FX. Help is at hand however, with a masterful rework from Voices from the Lake. The Italian dwellers of the deep deliver one of their most upfront works to date in a pounding rework combining their trademark meticulous sound design — tiny, expertly placed bleeps; underwater ambience; hypnosis-inducing beats — with the energy of the original, only this time around molded into something a little classier. And while this EP does not leave the most lasting of impressions, Jeff Derringer has put together a nonetheless solid package here — swashbuckling techno for fearless warriors of the tumultuous high seas and deep dark corners.