ASC: The Gradient Project (Auxiliary)
Three tracks of four-to-the-floor goodness from prolific and diverse producer ASC on his own Auxiliary label. He’s been unstoppable lately between his ambient, techno and drum & bass excursions, a steady string of new releases that despite sheer quantity tend to consistently deliver on quality, at least based on the specific selections I’ve heard — it’s hard to keep up! “1st Gradient” is an unassuming minimal techno track that would sound right at home on Mille Plateaux in their most active heyday, with airy pads floating over crisp, small beats. “2nd Gradient” takes things a shade deeper, with dubbed out stabs and a rolling drum track with a hearty low-end. “3rd Gradient” pumps up the volume considerably, leaping from the rolling thunder of the first 2 cuts into something more immediate and aggressive. That it achieves this by snare hits alone is impressive — otherwise he’s playing with similar elements like spacious pads and hand percussion. But the snare is noisy and front and center, with a rousing bassline that’s more urgent and physical; each of the tracks is likely to work on a dancefloor at different times of the night, depending on the mood. All three work well together as a set; I prefer to think of them as stops on one long gradient, ranging from understated to bright.