- According to Token, an aphelion is "the point in orbit when a planet or comet is farthest from the sun." Fittingly, the Aphelion compilation demonstrates the label's ongoing habit of operating well outside dominant trends. There are signifiers here that nod to certain strains of techno, but Aphelion, true to Token form, exudes a timeless quality and an independent spirit.
At a time when so many techno artists are hewing to the sound of early Downwards releases, the tracks here, while hardly shy of industrial grit, are more stylistically balanced. The rough-cut drums that barrel through Surgeon's "Fixed Action Pattern" are overlaid with billowing washes of melody that sound straight out of a gothic cathedral. The kicks in Ø [Phase]'s "Insectoid" are cast from scabrous concrete, but this belies how well-formed the track is overall. Everything is finely judged, from the strung-out pizzicato that leads the track, through to its arrangement, which unfolds like a sequence from a film.
Each track here feels totally individual. The most obvious example of this is Planetary Assault Systems' "The 808 Track (Parts 1 and 2)." On the surface this is the most straightforward track on the record, but in a way it's also the most leftfield, pairing the hyperactive energy of its vulcanised drum sounds with an overall vacancy that leaves it feeling downright weird. Rødhåd's "Haumea" is carried by a hypnotic, undulating bassline, as flashes of sound glint like light through a keyhole. On Lucy's "Sana Sana," syncopated cross-rhythms rub up against each other, while a stone-faced kick and hi-hat drop in and out, pushing the track with an unflinching momentum.
Even if these productions are intended for club use, the compilation works remarkably well as a front-to-back listening experience, and especially as a showcase of what this crew are about. Listening to Aphelion, it's pretty clear how Token became one of techno's main powerhouses.
01. Ø [Phase] - Insectoid
02. Lucy - Sana Sana Sana Cura Cura Cura
03. Ctrls - x.y
04. Rødhåd - Haumea
05. Planetary Assault Systems - The 808 Track (Parts 1 and 2)
06. James Ruskin - No Trace
07. Surgeon - Fixed Action Pattern
08. Inigo Kennedy - Arcing
09. Karenn - Pace Yourself