- Like many aspiring electronic music producers, Daniel Fisher moved to Berlin and became enamoured with techno once he got there. The move was marked by a rather drab EP for Fifth Wall and the launch of his own label, Allergy Season, in 2013. It was surprising to hear a producer whose early work overflowed with ideas suddenly buckling down and making straight-ahead techno. But there was still a hint of the old mischief in the bright colours and springy textures, and when Allergy Season released the wiggly Dubious Smink EP from newcomer Draveng last year, it revealed an impish streak that fully comes to life on Side Effects May Include. The compilation expands the label's roster to include John Barera, Max McFerren and a handful of lesser-knowns, squeezing boisterous material out of all of them.
The sound of Allergy Season is irreverent and fun. Even when these artists deal in dark, oppressive sounds, they don't sound particularly dark or oppressive. Barera, collaborating with Brooklyner Paul Morse, tempers a hard-headed sprint with soft, clammy chords. McFerren gets loose on "Snowy Break" and "2 Young 2 Be Zen," two songs that delight in exaggerated synth sounds. And as Harry Lerd, McFerren gets together with Fisher for the wonderful "Burn Down The Discotek," a cut of brisk techno with frantic acid squiggles, proggy basslines and filtered vocals. Throwing all these ideas together into one go-for-broke blur, "Burn Down The Discotek" isn't afraid to sound a little corny, and that makes it all the more loveable.
Disco comes to the fore again on Peter Pressure's "Their Gain Is Our Loss," a frantic boogie track that motors along as if the gas pedal were glued to the floor. The sounds that Pressure uses aren't too far from your typical disco edit, but pumped up to such extremes they move with an almost cartoonish urgency. Again and again, the tracks on Side Effects May Include—from Fatherhood's rubbery deep house to Pressure's "Mother's Day," which rushes by with staticky samples of "I'm Every Woman"—tease out the goofiness inherent in such hard, repetitive music.
Modern techno tends toward a stoic style with dark imagery and self-serious titles. This compilation shows Fisher and co gently subverting that, all the way down to the pharmacy-themed artwork. And though Allergy Season's tracks might sound lighthearted, they're still deadly serious when it comes to working the floor. As if to drive the point home, Side Effects May Include comes with a mixed version that bangs as hard as anything else out there—46 minutes of loose, playful techno that sounds completely natural where the first Allergy Season release admittedly felt a little green. Even if moving to Berlin and making techno is clichéd by now, it can still work, especially for artists whose perspective is as fresh as this.
01. Draveng - Snared Him But He Slinked
02. Fatherhood - Real Estate Struggles
03. Max McFerren - Snowy Break
04. Head Hurts - Te Zuur
05. Physical Therapy - The Hard Break
06. Peter Pressure - Their Gain Is Our Loss
07. Harry Lerd - Burn Down The Discotek
08. John Barera & Paul Morse - Tap Water
09. Max McFerren - 2 Young 2 Be So Zen
10. Physical Therapy - Shield of Faith
11. Kirk the Flirt & Peter Pressure - Mother's Day
12. Side Effects May Include (Continuous Mix)