- In these days of cultural glut, we're swamped with deluxe re-issue packages. Taking advantage vinyl as a fetish object, they usually claim to be a formerly forgotten gems and/or important musical milestones. That said, there are undoubtedly some records worthy of being recovered from the slag heap of the past—records that, for one reason or another, never got the love they deserved the first time around. Originally released as two limited edition EPs back in 2008 and 2009 by the short-lived Aquaplano label (and now fetching eye-watering prices on Discogs), Donato Dozzy and Nuel's The Aquaplano Sessions is one such example.
For the most part, the eight tracks of hypnotic techno on The Aquaplano Sessions do away with traditional harmonic and melodic development. Any remaining glimmers are generally buried so far in the mix as to be mostly atmospheric. Instead, we find Dozzy and Nuel churning through shifting rhythmic repetitions and twisted, dub-wise effects. The emergence of a snare, a variation in a shaker pattern—these are the moments from which the drama unfolds. And there is no shortage of drama. Take the sustained tones swirling around the restrained central beat of "Aqua 2," gathering strength and then receding, coming a little closer each time. When the note eventually changes—near the end, just for a second—it's enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
Almost all the tracks here maintain this sense of pitch-perfect intensity, which is what makes "Aqua 5" such a welcome respite in the middle of the record. Dropping the drums altogether, Dozzy and Nuel move into a shadowy world of ambient sound design. Chords ripple across the surface with the effect of sunlight playing on top of a quiet body of water, seen from below. The sense of depth the pair create in just six short minutes makes the first kick of the following track an immense shock to the system. At the end of the album, the expansive downtempo closing track is another soft landing for those coming back to earth.
Though they work perfectly well at home, detailed and immersive as they are, these are still remarkably functional tracks. This is music built for the communal, physical experience. Dozzy and Nuel thrive on their ability to draw you in physically, gradually attuning your entire body to a particular rhythm or note. Then, in a moment of genius, they flip the whole picture. The twist might only last for a matter of seconds, but there's real adrenaline packed into those moments of flux, a sense of floating or a loss of control.