- Ukraine's Aleksandr Voznichenko, AKA iO or iO (Mulen), makes picture-perfect tech house tools. He's spent the last few years developing a formula built around complex basslines, snippets of melody and shuffling percussion—the kind loved by DJs as diverse as Prins Thomas, Zip and Maya Jane Coles. It's music meant for DJs, which means that Voznichenko's work remains relatively unknown. For those who do follow him, his releases are buy-on-sight. Like peers such as Cab Drivers, John Dimas and Varhat, he's the kind of producer who can quickly and easily shift 1,000 copies of a new vinyl release.
Voznichenko's obsession with this loopy, sunshine-friendly sound is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, his tunes are dance floor sure-shots—if you play house music, you aren't going to find many records more versatile than his. It's also relatively one-dimensional, which means that if you own one of Voznichenko's 12-inches, buying another won't give you much you don't already have. Releasing the Letters And Numbers double-pack, a snapshot of modern tech house on Apollonia Music, is a bold move. Its six DJ tools, all built with jazzy snippets of melody and buoyant basslines, don't seem suited to an extended format. But the trio behind Apollonia Music—Dan Ghenacia, Dyed Soundorom, Shonky—are veteran DJs, which probably explains the subtle variety the label was able to get from Voznichenko.
Variety is relative, though, and many who skim through Letters And Numbers will consider the tracks very similar. But for many DJs, this package will be one of 2016's most worthwhile purchases. There's a tune for almost any situation. Warming up? Throw on "mpc13" or "ypt58," both warm, contemplative rollers with heavy low-end and trippy, barely-there vocals. "xdt54" is more upbeat, thanks to a dynamic, melodic bassline, dubby synth stab and 16th-note hi-hats. "zgb41" is more driving, and is Letters And Numbers' most obvious peak-time cut. Again, hi-hats and claps zing above a catchy bassline, but this time the low-end is more straightforward and gives the dance floor something simple to latch on to.
Voznichenko's sound is a far cry from the synthetic tech house long dominated by labels like Minus, Highgrade and Desolat. When the wider dance music community starts taking notice of records like Letters And Numbers, tech house might shake off its dirty connotations, which would only be a good thing.