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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Orphx - "The Sonic Groove Releases Pt. 1"

Artist: Orphx
Album: The Sonic Groove Releases Pt. 1
Year: 2014
Label: Hymen
Genre: Dark Techno
Website: www.hymen-records.com

Orphx is one of those bands with multiple faces. While they are known to people like me for their ambient rhythmic noise-esque material on Hands, they've also done ambient on labels like Malignant, and more recently, are quite known in the techno scene for their dark techno tracks. This album compiles, in CD format, some of those techno style tracks that have been released on vinyl via Sonic Groove.

To be honest, techno isn't my thing. One of my friends has been trying to get me into "dark" and "industrial" techno for years to no avail. However, after listening to this album I guess I am beginning to see the appeal. He always speaks of how "dark" and "atmospheric" the stuff is, and when it comes to this record I actually agree. My favorite thing about Orphx is how they are able to give their tracks a dreary, crackly sort of feel which is extremely hypnotic; and they port this over into the techno template.  The material on this disc more or less sounds like rhythmic noise that isn't distorted. You've got a variety of percussive elements which continuously fluctuate, combined with steady basslines and the occasional dubby synthline.

The opener "Cracktest (edit)" is ok, but has way too much obnoxious, overly loud high frequency stuff. However, the second track "First Light" really got me into this record. The beats are heavy and slightly crunchy which harken back to the standard Hands sound, but the cleaner mix provides space for the dark, sunken atmosphere to seep through. The song is pretty dynamic and despite being straight 4/4 for 7 minutes, I don't get bored of it. It's got an incredibly organic vibe, like a club within the earth where everything within venue is made of dirt, roots and leaves. Despite not really liking techno, I do enjoy the occasional bit of dub techno, and I am happy to see that Orphx incorporates this style into some tracks. I really enjoy the bassline and melodic plucks in "Stillpoint" and "Dispossession" and find this material to be powerfully encompassing.

I can't get into every track here, as some fall victim to the folly of the techno status quo: too repetitive, too few different sounds, and/or no synths or melodic bits to latch onto. Every song utilizes a pretty similar set of sounds, so I tend to get bored after 4-5 of these in a row.

The fact that someone who doesn't listen to techno enjoys most of this is pretty impressive. One for fans of rhythmic noise and dark techno who enjoy organic and mesmerizing atmospheres. Probably best suited for a club, but many tracks are interesting enough to be enjoyable during home listening. Personally, I still prefer material like Circuitbreaking (the songs, not the damn interludes) or Insurgent Flows, but can respect this stuff as well. I think that if you are a fan of any of Orphx's work than you will be able to appreciate at least some of what this CD has to offer. For fans of dark techno, this is likely right up your alley.

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