Neither Ben Sims or Kirk Degiorgio is what one might call a fresh-faced new artist. Both men are veterans of the UK techno scene, and have spent the past 15-plus years putting their own spins on a style originally created half a world away in Detroit. Many artists in their position are content to rest on their laurels, relying solely on their own catalogs and the litany of classics that undoubtedly reside in their record collections, but last year Sims and Degiorgio made a conscious choice to break with the past. Seeking to move forward, the duo founded Machine, a London-based club night devoted to new music, a party where everything played has been made in the past year or so. Machine quickly found an audience, and has slowly begun to spread across the European continent, which is likely why Sims and Degiorgio have elected to take things a step further and launch their own record label. The simply titled Machine is the young imprint's first offering, and the EP unsurprisingly finds the two producers operating at a high level.
Rather appropriately, Sims and Degiorgio themselves are the only artists featured on Machine. The EP kicks off with Degiorgio's "Machine Theme," a shiny piece of propulsive techno that channels late-'90s/early-'00s Detroit. Even with a punchy kick, the song is a purposefully controlled affair, one full of lush synth swells and gliding melodies. It's subtle, nuanced, and, most importantly, effective, particularly when Degiorgio temporarily brings in a slightly crunchy bassline about halfway through the proceedings. Where many producers punctuate clubby passages with introspective interludes, Degiorgio lets his dreamy impulses take the lead while crafting a tune that won't lose the dancefloor. It's an impressive feat, and one that likely could only be turned in by an experienced hand.
Next up is Sims' contribution, "Metal Works." Similarly refined and also utilizing a Detroit-indebted sound palette, it's nonetheless a more stripped effort than "Machine Theme." The drums are higher in the mix, and even shuffle a bit as the track swells and evolves over the course of its six-minute runtime. Sims does employ some synths in the production, but primarily in the form of a melodic loop, which ultimately functions as just another rhythmic element while the percussion patterns continually morph and change. Make no mistake, "Metal Works" has some real punch in its low end, but it's still a heady, thoughtful number.
The drums get even more prominent on the EP's final cut, a remix of Degiorgio's "Machine Theme" by—who else?—Ben Sims. Buoyed by a thunderous drum pattern, Sims reaches a little further back into history and brings in a melody line that hints at early-'90s, hands-in-the-air anthems. Granted, it ultimately never reaches that level of ostentation, as Sims keeps things far too cool to slip into nostalgic worship. Nevertheless, it's the clubbiest offering on Machine, and the kind of tasteful cut that discerning partygoers undoubtedly are treated to when Sims and Degiorgio step behind the decks.