Sigha, Abstractions I-IV

[Hotflush Recordings]

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Over the past year the music released by Hotflush has become ever more imposing. Grandiose techno such as Paul Woolford & Psycatron’s “Stolen,” Scuba’s own driving and melodic “Adrenaline,” the recent Locked Groove 12″ — all have seen the imprint grow ever more suited to the biggest rooms while, thankfully, never straying too close to lurid territory. But while the imprint’s output has remained high quality, there has also been an encroaching gloss — and conservatism — that has tempered the earlier, more visceral excitement of rawer releases by artists such as Untold or Pangaea. Sigha’s Abstractions I-IV is a case in point: a hulking and nuanced set that offers a restrained and authentic forward drive, if lacking somewhat in originality.

Opening with a beatless salvo — “Something In Between Us” — the combination of ambient outdoors vista and lush pad work is beautiful, but by no means an indication of what lies in wait. Indeed, although beatless tracks have been a part of the landscape since time immemorial, in techno circles they often hold more than a passing element of menace. This one simply shines. Any feeling of elation is short lived, however. “Where I Come To Forget” leads with a sparse arrangement, cavernous kicks broken by a cracking snare on the offbeat. Some tracks simply demand to be thoroughly worked, this being one of them. Each element of the tune is brought in slowly (the whole thing lasts eight minutes), and clicks along with Teutonic precision; it takes a very real engineering skill to create such a beguiling — and damned near perfect — DJ tool.

Not everything here is quite as captivating, however. There is perhaps a small element of techno karaoke to certain Sigha tracks, with audible influence drawn down from firmly within the genre. Third track, “How To Disappear,” is a decent case in point: the oscillating synth work, ticking percussion and ominous atmospherics straying far too close to Sandwell territory for comfort. Final track, “Drown,” draws this set to a roundly satisfying close. The dank atmospherics and dusky pads are underpinned by some serious sub weight, and a satisfyingly heavy atmosphere of industrial rot prevails. While Sigha may be some way off from finding a truly original voice within techno, his work is serious and accomplished nonetheless, offering an ever-increasing bounty of slick productions. Abstractions I-IV is a skilled EP, shot through with moments of quiet beauty.

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