Scuba's Hotflush Recordings has changed its spots a bit in the last few years, starting out as primarily a dubstep label, evolving into other territories as the music altered shape, and today sitting very much within the house and techno domain. But gratifyingly, its mission statement appears intact: to release club records with an experimental or forward-thinking touch. It’s in this spirit that Frankfurt producer Sascha Borchardt, aka Monoloc, makes his Hotflush debut, breaking away somewhat from the more functional techno he’s made for Chris Liebing’s CLR and Slam’s Soma, and recent fare for Life & Death and Innervisions.
You can see why Hotflush snapped these tracks up. "Another Thing" itself looms with malicious intent, a huge haunted space of eerie crackles, clanks and distant synth melodies, before a John Carpenter-esque riff jerks from the gloom. "TrySome" is the centerpiece, though: Big soundscape techno built for warehouse spaces, it’s cavernous, foreboding and deliciously rich in detail. With a lovely bittersweet pad cycle in the backdrop, Monoloc lets loose a mournful R&B vocal that you could imagine Burial deploying, while the track moves into a morphing dub-techno piece. It’s the perfect midway point between Hotflush’s bass-music past and its harder, darker future.
Final track "Makeless" exists in a similar zone. Again, there’s that sliver of soul vocal set against a monochrome, grey-scale backdrop—but it’s more abstract and, you sense, a similar experiment that simply didn’t work as well. On the strength of its two lead cuts, though, Monoloc is forging an exciting identity for himself—dub techno with vitality, a modicum of warmth, and plenty of interest to keep us coming back for more.