French producer Pierre-Nicolas Mader released a run of pleasant dub techno 12-inches on his label from 2011 through 2012 and then disappeared into thin air. Now with Wave Memory, he's back, and he's hardly recognizable. There's a good reason for that—over the course of that year and a half, Mader broke up with his long-term partner, pulling him into a downward spiral that produced these six downtrodden dance tracks.
Most of Wave Memory sounds so distant that you can almost hear the depression setting in. The effect is alternately beautiful and deflating. On the first track, a lonely arpeggio shoots across the bleary landscape like streaks of light. Number two then dips even further into the doldrums, hobbling along with some eerie organ and pan flutes. Track four sounds like loneliness incarnate, a blind trudge through darkness with a few springy sounds skittering in the background.
"WAV 3" busts out the dance floor moves, with a raging acid line that's almost nihilistic. Mader channels his inner turmoil through the most abrasive sound he can get from his machines, but the quick-and-dirty jamming feels lazy compared to the rest of the EP. Track six is more composed, a slice of stuttering night-flight techno with immaculately textured percussion. That leaves the record's curveball, track five, which channels new beat-style drums through a wall of decaying filters. It sure gets the depressive feeling across, but it's also lacking Mader's usually light touch.