Ryan Elliott, Kicking Up


Photo by Jim Sanborn

[Spectral Sound]


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Ryan Elliott makes functional music: it’s what he’s known for, and it’s what he does best. It’s why his Little White Earbuds podcast was a resounding success, a storming selection of tracks that never once felt overbearing or overpowering, instead the careful and finessed work of someone who truly understands the mechanics of techno. But his latest production — and debut for Spectral Sound, the Ghostly sub-label for which he manages A&R — is almost humorously stripped back, a photo-negative techno skeleton that you could probably poke holes in if it weren’t all empty space and air to begin with.

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A kick, hi-hat, and a few different inhuman vocal samples: that’s pretty much all the track is. Oh yeah, there’s a chord as well. The slovenly bass line — like it’s hanging low just behind the beat — is the one thing that lends it a semblance of physical heft, keeping the track on life support as it ambles its way through its rather simplistic life. The track isn’t much at all, but it’s just groovy enough to stand on its own two feet, and tracky enough to be a powerful building back or supporting foundation for any number of other, more assertive tracks. Mysterious outfit STABLO offers a minimal-tinged remix, sending a playful chord progression reverberating through that chasm of empty space. This time the percussive elements feel like a wireframe cage rather than the pure constituents, like Elliott’s original turned inside out. It lacks the blunt, no-bullshit force of the original but offers something just a smidgen meatier for those who might find “Kicking Up” a little too lean for their liking. “Kicking Up” is the kind of single not likely to top DJ charts or hoard critical acclaim, but for those DJs who stumble upon it should prove the kind of valuable set glue we expect from Ryan Elliott.

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