EP1 is the debut EP from Rote, the new pairing formed of BleeD boss Casper Clark (a.k.a. Volte-Face) and Bournemouth trip-merchant Daniel Avery. Over four tracks (two original, two remixed), the pair’s stripped-back techno cuts have an understated sophistication familiar to anyone who enjoyed Volte-Face’s quietly brilliant debut, the Charlatan EP, earlier this year.
"Rote 1" kicks us off with 4/4 bass drums draped in a crisp haze of white noise and mechanical ambience. The palette here is less "clanking, industrial death machine," more "distant, malevolent vacuum cleaner," and this concision of scale works beautifully to evoke hissing, echoed dread from small, subtle movements. The track is a steady suck-pulse of softly rolling machine noise, buffeted by shakers, percs, and eventually a single repeating note which folds into the mix like a low battery alert, forming a powerful crescendo that sets heads nodding early on.
DJ Nobu’s remix of the same takes that blueprint and dehumanizes proceedings even further, accenting "Rote 1"’s extant sparseness with a flurry of chittering tones, adding a thin film of tension to the steady drip of field hospital bleeps already present in the original. This menacing counterpoint winds around the track’s structure with an uneasy grace, resulting in a welcome new layer of malevolent heft.
It’s the atmospheric "Rote 2," however, that proves to be EP1’s showstopper. Here, steam locomotive percussion builds layer by layer, until plaintive, swelling pads cut through the filtery wash at the track’s midpoint. The lush chords escort the listener through a break in the industrial murk, soaring above the maelstrom for a tantalizing glimpse of euphoric sunrise, before tumbling beneath the clouds and back within the familiar storm of hissing, whirring hydraulics. This is resolutely a form-and-function techno record, with none of the pyrotechnics associated with Avery at his more hallucinatory—but in brief, stolen moments such as these, one hears the melodic sensibility common to Avery releases like his Drone Logic LP or Movement EP.
For the most part, however, EP 1 is avowedly unflashy techno and all the better for it, eschewing most things fanciful or complicated. Nowhere is this more evident than on Svreca’s uber-minimal "Rote 2" rework, an unfussy effort that actually feels like a near-perfect loop for most of its duration. Despite the minimal fuss or fanfare, repeated listens bear out each of these track's hypnotic qualities until—with each additional airing—you notice how those subtleties become strengths, and how sparse little moments become major events. It’s certainly a brave gamble to name your act Rote and release a platter of cuts this straight-forward and classical in form, but the craft and confidence of EP 1 shows that simplicity needn’t mean painting by numbers.