- The turning point in Patrick Gräser's career came in 2011. At the end of summer that year, a mysterious 12-inch called Subway Into popped up on the Hard Wax homepage. On it was a dark blend of breakbeat and techno, epitomised in the release's most far-reaching cut, "Escape Myself." Before too long, it was revealed that the man behind the record was Gräser, a Berliner little-known outside his hometown. Gräser followed up Subway Into with a pair of well-received singles on Marcel Dettmann Records. Now a Berghain resident releasing on Ostgut Ton, Answer Code Request has joined the ranks of artists like Marcel Dettmann, Tobias Freund and Ben Klock. His debut album, Code, proves he belongs in such company.
For the past few years, the sole description on Answer Code Request's Facebook page has been "versatile techno." This has never been more accurate than on the 12 tracks that make up Code. Where recent techno albums on Ostgut Ton have mostly featured club-ready techno cuts (Marcel Dettmann's II in particular), Code is heavy on ambience and murky broken beats. Like on Gräser's singles, the mood is mostly gloomy. But buried below murky atmospherics are skipping, hard-hitting drums and heavy, drawn-out basslines that propel the listener forward with every bar.
Bass arrives eight seconds into Code's intro. From then on, wherever there's a kick drum, there's heaving low end. The effect of this combination varies from track to track. The bass seems to growl on "Blue Russian," but it jumps on "Field Depth" and soothes on "Relay Access." It heavily influences the mood of each track, cementing an ominous aesthetic regardless of what's happening on top.
Code's most light-hearted moments are also some of its best. "By The Bay" and "Thermal Capacity" arrive at the tail end of the album, and form a counterpoint to its bleak first half. Light chords and spacey samples appear for the first time, offering respite from the pummelling sounds of the previous half-hour. Despite the change in atmosphere, the driving low-end remains, further highlighting its importance in Gräser's palette. Code isn't a bass music album, but it's not quite techno. It's a good thing Gräser hasn't settled on either, as the range exhibited here is outstanding.
02. Blue Russian
03. Field Depth
04. Odyssey Sequence
06. Relay Access
09. Spin Off
10. By The Bay
12. Thermal Capacity