It was a shared love for "melancholic, hypnotic voodoo" music that inspired Nick Lapien and Robin Koek to make music together in 2012. Lapien, whose infectious, swinging house cuts have featured regularly on XLR8R, was just beginning his career as a solo artist; while Koek, who designs his own artistic systems and teaches at dBs Music Berlin, had just earned a Master of Arts from Utrecht's School of Arts, specializing in Sound Design and Composition. His works explore states wherein acoustic, digital, and analog signals intertwine and merge into one body of sound. Having crossed paths in the first year of university, Koek and Lapien now wished to adopt techno as an art-form rather than a genre.
The Dutch duo first appeared with the Mirror Society EP on Field Records, before taking their nuanced, atmospheric sound to like-minded labels such as like Tikita, Prologue, and Deep Sound Channel. After releasing two EPs on the legendary Dutch imprint Delsin Records, Koek and Lapien presented their debut album, Kinship, cementing their aesthetic while showcasing its breadth. Their sound is pensive with deep, rich textures; long track lengths—often six-minutes-plus—give the duo an expansive framework in which to make small changes of texture and tone, creating cerebral, balanced atmospheres that absorb and engage, often meaning that you want the tracks to continue going and going.
After a short period of reflection, Artefakt spent the first months of this year with the launch of their own imprint, De Stijl, and the release of their second album, Monsoon, out now on Semantica Records. They also continue to tour heavily, bringing their hypnotizing sounds to the club, as DJs or a hardware-heavy live set. It really is techno for the body and the mind.
The duo's XLR8R podcast is testament to this, but with a little more weight on the latter. It's thought-provoking and intelligently constructed, with deft textures doing the work rather than anything direct. After 20 minutes it becomes a little bit more driving, hitting a peak around the 30-minute mark, before the full majesty of Artefakt presents itself with one-hour of artistic, cerebral techno of the highest order.
What have you been up to recently?
We have both been individually working on film scores and sound installation work recently. Together we have been spending dedicated time in the studio and beyond working on two new EPs for different labels which both take a different angle on our sound. Next to this, we are focused on finishing up the next release for our own imprint, De Stijl, due to come out early fall.
Your second album has just been released. How are you feeling about it?
We are really glad we can finally share this with the world. It became a really personal atmospheric journey and we are very excited about the final work. The whole process of curation and artistic choices in the record felt very organic in our conversations with Enrique (a.k.a Svreca), and this has resulted in the final album being very close to us. The feedback so far has been great so we're glad to see that people are tuning into this new path which might be more abstract to the previous album.
When and where was this mix recorded?
The mix was recorded in Berlin in our studio with a few different takes over the course of April.
Is there a concept or wider vision behind it?
We really wanted to tell a story with this mix in the same vein as the Monsoon LP, following a more atmospheric notion of sound. So we focussed on tracks that resonated within this sonic framework as well as combining this with material from the album.
How does the podcast compare to one of your club sets?
In comparison to club sets, it has a different approach to the listener; although there are some driving peak-time, we wanted to create something you can really appreciate outside of a club context
How much of the material that you make do you release?
Most of the material we work on together tends to find its way into a release sooner or later, but at the same time, we also have an ever-expanding vault of sketches floating around on hard disks. Sometimes a sketch of two years ago can be the missing piece bringing it all together. The Monsoon LP is mostly based on new material, but it also contains a track like "Vertigo" which is an iteration of a sketch that dates back six years.
What’s next on the horizon, looking forward?
We have some exciting shows coming up next weeks in Smolna, Amsterdam, and in our hometown of Berlin. The latter is a Semantica showcase in Tresor with Svreca & Claudio PRC, and we are excited to introduce the sounds of Monsoon in a live context then.
Due to issues regarding the GDPR, EU readers can download the podcast here.
01. Artefakt "The Lost Centre" [Semantica Records]
02. Artifical drm "human no name" [unreleased]
03. Refracted "Depth Charge" [BleeD]
04. Neel & natural/electronic.system [Tikita] "Percussiva" / Dorisburg "Gripen" [Hivern Discs]
05. Von Grall "Case History" [Planet Rhythm]
06. Amandra "Risque Papantla" [Tikita]
07. Artefakt "The Fifth Planet" (Forest Drive West remix) [Delsin Records]
08. AWB "Celestial Longitude (PVNV remix) [Taapion Records]
09. Claudio PRC "Atik #2" [Attic Music]
10. Artefakt "Ossature" [Semantica Records]
11. BNJMN "Hypnagogia Pt. 2" [Delsin Records]
12. Artefakt "Vertigo" [Semantica Records]
13. Artifical drm "Enigma" [unreleased]
14. Artefakt "Celluloid Dreams" [Semantica Records]
15. Jaap Vink "En Dehors" [Recollection GRM]
16. Versalife "MO5" [20:20 Vision/VIS312]