Alongside producers such as Hound Scales, Divvorce, and Max McFerren, the now partially Berlin-based DJ/producer Physical Therapy (a.k.a. Daniel Fisher) has spent the past couple of years pushing a new wave of techno in NYC. Granted, he offers a particular strain of the genre that tends to be more playful and unorthodox than the more purist variants one generally associates with the sound, but his work is not without its charms. Physical Therapy has always been a particularly wide-ranging DJ and producer, but only got his official start last year with the release of an EP of melodic breakbeat hardcore on Hippos in Tanks. His latest effort, the Non-Drowsy EP, is coming via Fisher's own, newly minted Allergy Season imprint, and marks his third EP release in as many months. Although his DJ sets and mixes have taken on a decidedly techno-leaning bent as of late, little on the Non-Drowsy EP actually comes close to qualifying as techno. It's a delightfully impure grab bag, with seven referent-heavy tracks that allude to a number of dance-music styles both past and present, seemingly simultaneously. More importantly, and perhaps more than any other Physical Therapy release to date, the songs feel uniquely like the product of a single restless mind.
Opening track "4_21" begins with a muted, filter-heavy vocal sample, around which a clattering beat gradually crystallizes. The track has a vaguely underwater sensibility that is exacerbated by the lurching kick that enters around the halfway mark, along with a hazy, non-specific synth line—it's neither here nor there, and oddly enough, that only makes it more compelling. "Huff" offers tribal-sounding rhythms, which are eventually obliterated by an ominous bridge and the track's sweeping, trance-influenced latter half. "Leonia" and "Huminbeen" draw on piano-house samples, but see Fisher twisting their trajectories—which easily could have been somewhat predictable—through his own oblique sensibility. "d.T." is perhaps the EP's most satisfying cut, as it offers six-and-a-half minutes of blissful, 909-heavy house that demonstrates how Physical Therapy is also capable of playing it relatively straight. It is exactly this multi-faceted approach, constantly veering between straightforward and oddball, that makes Non-Drowsy a compelling listen. Throughout the EP, Fisher takes standard genre signifiers and renders them slightly strange, a little bit off. This makes him sometimes difficult to read and impossible to place, but on Non-Drowsy, Fisher's elusiveness proves to be an advantage.