Dax J - Shades Of Black

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  • Dax J has shown an aptitude for unusual techno, especially with cohorts Gareth Wild and Chris Stanford in EarToGround's early days. The Londoner has never shied from his jungle and UK rave roots, letting the sounds inform his DJ sets and several EPs along way. (Check out "Dreamscape" on his first Monnom Black record, the cheeky breaks in "Angel Dust" for Deeply Rooted, and the Sephora EP's details.) This year, he's taken a dive into driving acid, producing some of his hardest-hitting stuff to date. It's all diverse and sprawling as it keeps a firm footing on the floor, which is exactly what we get on Shades Of Black. It's all here: the paced, dreamy stuff ("Beyond Planets"), something with a bit more bite ("Protect The Prophecy"), an acid freak out ("Black Pegasus") and a slammer that touches on his vinyl-digging past ("Renegades Of Conflict"). There's even a straight-up jungle track ("In The Shadows") and a few moments where Dax J goes totally off road. These are Shades Of Black's highlights, but there sadly aren't enough. Intro "Orlok's Symphony" prises the lid open with a nice tumble down the rabbit hole, but the jewel in the crown is "Sempa" for working strange chimes and timbres into a delightful club oddity. That one takes on all sorts of weird shapes, and yet it's the most succinct product of Dax J's amalgams. The biggest fault with Shades Of Black is how the elements separately vie for your attention instead of properly coalescing. The mixology is almost right, but not quite. Take "Requiem Souls": it was deliberately made to jar, with the mix firing off at strange angles, but comes off sounding more awkward than functionally challenging. Altogether, Black is missing the gum to glue it firmly together, but on a track-to-track basis, it's more solid off-kilter techno from a producer unafraid to subvert conventions.
  • Tracklist
      01. Orlok's Symphony 02. Beyond The Planets 03. Renegades Of Conflict 04. Devine Right 05. In The Shadows 06. Protect The Prophecy 07. Requiem Souls 08. Black Pegasus 09. Sempa 10. Afterlife