On Used Experience, the second release from fledgling Brooklyn imprint Fifth Wall, label co-owner Divvorce delivers four tracks born out of a curiously successful concoction of eyes-down warehouse techno and mainstream house hooks. The result is an EP that seems torn between the no-nonsense world of bare-bones bass music and the joyous retro melodies of the '90s rave scene. Fortunately, for the most part these conflicting influences merely serve to lend personality to this charmingly esoteric release.
Of the four originals here, "E1" is the most straightforward. It's a six-minute work of Berlin-inspired techno, complete with relentless kick pattern, metallic percussion, and noisy, atmospheric synths. It's a well produced tune that packs plenty of low-end punch, albeit one which mainly feels like an exercise in homage paying and doesn't really offer anything more than echoes of its quite obvious influences.
From track two onward, however, Used Experience begins to get interesting. On "E2"—a collaboration with fellow Fifth Wall owner Hound Scales—Divvorce continues to play with the sounds of hard-edged European techno. Here though, the metallic beat is underpinned by a surprisingly direct bass hook and a clean vocal loop that wouldn't sound out of place in a mainstream house track. On "E3," he takes this juxtaposition of influences further, creating an initial beat that combines moody atmospherics with a Chicago-house stomp before building it into something akin to classic '90s trance. "E4" rounds off the run of originals in similarly eclectic fashion. A powerful kick pattern again drives the tune, matched here by a rough-edged and rave-friendly bassline, but there's also a melodic retro lead that lurks in the background throughout, as though some anthemic big-room tech-house tune is threatening to drop at any moment.
The final two tracks of the EP find Californian producer Grenier and Scandinavian artist MRSK on remix duties. The former amps up both the moody undertones and melodic synths of "E2," turning it into an expansive work of cinematic techno. The latter adds a slightly garage-like shuffle to "E3," eventually letting the whole thing dissolve into a wonky analog bass jam.