- Rotterdam's Stranger kicked the door in on 2016 with a no-holds-barred opening set for New Year's Day at Awakenings in Amsterdam. Much like the podcasts that have emerged since, his aim is to bring together the new and old in a distinctly forthright and warehouse-y manner. You'll just as likely hear gritty hardcore and dirty acid beats slammed in amongst the sleekest of modern-day weaponry. His slalom into the Monnom Black camp, then, couldn't be more fitting, with Higher Sense landing after Dax J's own jungle-techno-hardcore-melding album, Shades Of Black.
So far, Stranger releases—including his Paling Trax contribution—have rarely strayed outside of a '90s comfort zone. It's been fun waxing nostalgic, but I'm ready to hear something more risqué. Higher Sense is a step in that direction, with the likes of "Play Some Rave For Me" flaunting more of a hybrid sound than a straight-up retro one. Despite obvious allusions in the title, this one's rave has been turned into tougher, stonier techno that transcends past and present for its own weird dimension. It's moments like these where Higher Sense excels. "Ommoord" is more of the same, this time with an irascible "Energy Flash" streak to it, and "Doorklapgabber" is even further out there.
Again, the name is a bit of a red herring. "Doorklapgabber" is certainly noisy and inciting, but at a manageable BPM. Anything old-school Rotterdam is kept to the minute details, like a seasoning used to spice things up. "Higher Sense," on the other hand, puts its heritage brazenly on show. There's a strong UK flavour to it, with those hardcore stabs going off like Catherine wheels throughout, yet it's dangerously close to Speedy J's defining hit, "Something For Your Mind"—one of the most famous records to ever come out of Rotterdam. Both tracks sample vocals from C'hantal's "The Realm," but the resonance goes much deeper. That kind of flattery is all well and good, but Stranger would be better off showing more of himself.
A1 Highest Sense
A2 Play Some Rave For Me