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26 December 2016

Delta
Funktionen: Wasteland (Radio Matrix)

Niels
Luinenburg released four 12" vinyl EPs last year, each numbered off
as a unique chapter of Wasteland. Fast forward to a full year after
the fourth installment, and he’s collected them all as a proper album
in sequence, with only one cut from the vinyl missing (Wasteland
Chapter IV: Lifewater Oasis
’s “Korath System”) presumably only
excluded to fit on a CD pressing. After picking up his vinyl releases
that circulated for years before making a full-length, I found his
2012 debut album Traces to be solid but disjointed, hardly surprising
knowing that he created it over the span of a few years and there was
no real cohesive concept. Wasteland is the precise opposite, an
elaborate narrative around the notion of an alien planet of the same
name, far off in the Andromeda Galaxy. If it sounds like science
fiction pastiche, worry not; the music holds its own across a full
album of tightly crafted techno in various shades of dark and chilly.

There are occasional nods to the music worldbuilding of Drexciya,
such as the detuned keys of “Tab” and its dirty 808 kit, but more
often than not Luinenburg finds his own voice with an interesting and
punchy sci-fi tinged kind of techno. “Pusher” has a great,
annoying zappy lead that takes it over the top, something also
accomplished in the reverbed acid patterns of “Phantom.” But my
favorite is the militaristic stride of “Bunker,” a track that
would feel at home on Profan, and a nice apex before its final few
tracks soften the vibe.

“Lost In a Dream” has the same melodic
flair that I’d associate with the finest productions from the
Drexciya camp but with more polish, while “The Last Game” feels
like the culmination of its own science fiction storyline with
majestic sweeps and punctuated zaps of sound. I imagine fans of the
sci-fi flirtations and scores of Jeff Mills, Drexciya, or even John
Carpenter will find much to like here. While Wasteland might not
necessarily fully break the mold, I find it to be one of the more fully formed and most solid techno albums of the year, more cohesive than his debut and a
satisfying journey from start to finish. Highly recommended.

Buy it: Delsin

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