- Nina Kraviz lords over a techno kingdom called Trip, where Bjarki Sigurdarson is court jester. He's young, playful and operates in a broader stylistic range than most of his labelmates. Aside from Kraviz herself, you might call him Trip's signature artist. Sigurdarson gave the label its biggest hit in "I Wanna Go Bang," and his tunes tend to stand out on the label's compilations. He's prolific, too. First there was his RA podcast—made entirely of his own tunes at a time when he had only one release to his name—and then came news that Trip would release a whopping three solo albums from Sigurdarson, comprising 41 tracks altogether. The first is Б, a heavy-duty package spread across three records. A wild ride through breakbeats and rambunctious basslines, it's as adventurous and seemingly effortless as we've come to expect.
Sigurdarson treats styles of techno like play-acting. He hops between eras, mimicking both their aesthetics and fidelity—check the worn-out synths on the slo-mo trip-hop of "Son Of A Son," or the rickety, old-school drums on the euphoric "The Lover You Are" (a reverie worthy of Moby's halcyon days). And when he's not digging into the past, he's crafting crystal-clear sounds. There's the crumble of "Marsian Roses," loaded with pseudo-orchestral melodies, and the quirky "Travel In Space," where a straightforward beat is accented by gritty synth leads that sound like marbles rolling on a roulette table.
It's these details that make Bjarki tracks so interesting. He has a way of combining the spontaneous eclecticism of classic Rephlex artists with the meticulous nature of modern techno, resulting in music that feels serious enough to satisfy the heads and inviting enough to pull in the dilettantes. Take "As You Remember": at its core, the urgent synths and windswept breaks are plenty alluring, but the air traffic control chatter peppered throughout is the stroke of genius that takes it to the next level. And the slightly garbled sound of the transmissions has its own nostalgic tint, recalling the primitive samples of early Biosphere. "Can A Man," meanwhile, is like listening to a lost Artificial Intelligence track, capturing that fizzy analogue sound eerily well.
Б is thoroughly retro, though Sigurdarson never stays in one space too long. He chops hardcore into tiny pieces on "Here It Comes Can You Feel It 92 Hoover 2" and lets the hoovers fly towards the end. But then he's on to straight-up techno like "Bbbbbbbbbbb Render 2," where offbeat snares add some spice, and diving into spot-on AFX mimicry with "Midi 14-Aug-2," though its muted brass synths and skittering drums are dangerously on the nose.
The influence of Aphex Twin looms over Б, from the dashed-off song titles to the sudden mood swings and, of course, the vintage IDM stylings. But the main difference between Sigurdarson and AFX is that you can always tell a Richard D. James track no matter what craziness is going on. Sigurdarson, on the other hand, is a talented chameleon, and while that tradeoff can leave him without a unique footprint, it also makes him excitingly unpredictable. On mid-album highlight "T4it 3," what starts out as a dusty techno workout soon melts into a free-fall breakdown, where sepiatone bursts into vivid color. It's just one of many moments on Б that'll blow your hair back, or at the least, give you pause to admire how good of a producer Sigurdarson really is.
01. Marsian Raver
02. Opalocka Acid Groove 12 Bit Mix
03. Here It Comes Can You Feel It 92 Hoover 2
04. Planet Earth Q94 [Live Edit]
05. Son Of A Son
06. T4it 3
07. Travel In Space
08. Bbbbbbbbbbb Render 2
09. As You Remember
10. Can A Man
11. It's My Thing
12. The Lover That You Are
13. Midi 14-Aug-2