Whether intended or not, the debut release from DIVA has come wrapped with a tangible sense of mysterious allure. Between the nonexistent background information of the project and the sinister title of its first release, Paris Stabbing, the stage has been set for the sound DIVA is after—hardware-focused club music that falls somewhere between hard-edged analog techno and cerebral house.
The title track opens the EP with an intense, eight-minute excursion that seems likely to scare off the more fairweather fans of hardware electronics. Quickly unfolding a menacing arpeggio sequence—which continues completely unaltered throughout the song's entire run—"Paris Stabbing" is a dark and eerie bit of techno; its ominous chords and acid-touched bassline ride alongside miniature, drum-machine-born toms and hats that roll out with just a touch of swing. As opposed to much of the aggressive, hardware-driven techno that has risen to the surface in recent months (particularly from the likes of Karenn, Cosmin TRG, and Untold), DIVA's take here displays less distortion and overdrive than one might expect. Rather than pushing the equipment beyond its threshold, "Paris Stabbing" achieves its sinister touch by simmering in a bizarre mood, led by the unrelentingly dissonant arpeggio and layers of refracted disco vocals which unfold in a handful of patterns every so often. It's a strangely entrancing track, one that draws the listener in with its palpable, but by no means overworked, sense of mystery.
"But I've Never" is a similarly lengthy endeavor, but one that leans more towards the house end of the spectrum and—aside from a recurring build of droning chords—is much less evil than the EP's lead cut. Built around a set of affected piano chords and wordless vocals run through stuttering delays, the track comes together in a very methodical fashion, the rising drones helping to push the sparse arrangement through to each new section. While the song does not have the same foreboding touch as its predecessor, it still feels a bit uneasy—the piano rhythms are rendered slightly lopsided and the swung kick and snare lock into an enticing bounce that likely makes "But I've Never" even better suited for the dancefloor than its a-side counterpart.
Closing with a "Beats" version of the title track, Paris Stabbing proves to be an introductory EP that is as solid as it is distinctive, forging a rather unique, hardware-shaped path between analog techno and abstract house while leaving us with a few burning questions, the most important of which being: How soon until we hear more from DIVA?
Stream the entire DIVA EP here.