Mike Dehnert, Oblique

Photo by Misha Gordin

[Clone Basement Series]

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Mike Dehnert’s album Framework, on Delsin, is one of the year’s best, and he’s already augmented it with the similarly excellent Before Framework EP. Does this therefore mean his latest substantial 12″, featuring four full-bodied techno tracks and dropping on Clone Basement Series, is something of a footnote? Yes, a bit, but only if we nerdily accept that the footnotes are where we leave behind the day-trippers and get into the real fun. This record never exudes the grandeur of, say, Framework‘s “Palindrome,” but it is certainly calculated to get techno true believers hot under the collar with maximum efficiency. “Sonderbar” is made to sound like two tracks jammed together. It is the record’s boldest moment but the rhythmic intensity overrules much appreciation of Dehnert’s delightful sound design. “Briser” thumps hard and gives center stage to some recalcitrant upper-midrange notes which seem likely to bother the ceiling pleasantly in a large room, but I must admit are a little harsh for at home use.

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The other two tracks are some of the most intimate from Dehnert in a while. He is a true master of the relationship a piece of music can build with you when it comes in on a strong note, first abrading against your sensibilities but then gradually yielding in fine seductive fashion. “Oblique” feels misjudged upon entering the room wearing a big bashy beat and a few hints of shredded sound from some nocturnal jungle. But the whole thing decays amid a decadent dub aesthetic and expands its breathy vocal snippet until each surface steams up. “Plonger” is not quite such a switched on tactile treat. It reminds me of the sweaty, beleaguered truth George Orwell extracts from his time washing dishes in a hellish restaurant basement in Down and Out in Paris and London. If Orwell’s turn as a plongeur and this Dehnert track don’t quite associate the same way for you, hopefully you’ll still agree that this is a fine example of no-pain-no-gain techno, where an intimidating attitude sublimates into something inscrutably rewarding. By restating these well-established techno paradoxes through a superb command of techno tone and texture, Dehnert once again proves he is a top-class talent.

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