- Stanislav Tolkachev, your favourite techno producer's favourite techno producer, is human after all. An artist revered for being unconventional has done the most conventional thing a techno producer can do these days: release an album that says very little. When You Are Not At Home, the Ukrainian's first official LP (following low-key digital full-lengths in 2008 and 2009), arrives at a time when hype around him has never been stronger. (You know you're doing something right when Ellen Allien and Cio D'Or are both playing your tunes.) But too much of one thing is never good, and that's the crucial mistake of When You Are Not At Home. These 16 tracks would have been better off split across multiple 12-inches.
Tolkachev's raw, abstract club sound isn't immediately suited to the album format, if only for its relatively limited range. Loopy and atonal, most of his tunes—which, depending on the setting, can be meditative trips or emotional bombs—are built with the same ingredients: otherworldly bleeps and muffled, hammering kicks. The most sought-after Tolkachev releases, however, have presented multiple sides of his sound, whether it's with experimental workouts of more club-ready fare. When You Are Not At Home has nothing like the contemplative ambient squelch of 2013's "Depth Of Light," or the euphoric crescendo of 2015's beatless "Optical Illusions," or even the hammering, doomsday melody of 2011's "Sometimes Every Thing Is Wrong"—masterpieces that, for many of Tolkachev's fans, are among the most memorable of his 100-plus tunes. Instead, When You Are Not At Home comprises ten run-of-the-mill Tolkachev techno loops and a few ambient cuts.
Naturally, there are flashes of brilliance. These moments come when Tolkachev steps away from his linear workouts, be it the dazzling, bleepy ambient of "Vot I Vse" or the modulating "Five Grams Will Be OK." Where tracks like "Idiom" and "Apexcordis" will appeal to DJs, the housey groove of "And Then She Fell," which is still well within Tolkachev's doomsday techno spectrum, sounds a bit more special than the other percussive tunes.
So what's the purpose of this album? Tolkachev might be modern techno's most exciting producer, and this triple-vinyl pack should be more than the sum of its parts. Great recent techno albums—Answer Code Request's Code, Morphosis's What Have We Learned, Gesloten Cirkel's Submit X—all say something its makers hadn't previously said. In contrast, recent Tolkachev 12-inches like Right Angle, All Night Vigil and Walk Along The Bottom are more personal and varied than When You Are Not At Home. Unlike the countless techno producers puffing up their albums with by-the-numbers ambient, Tolkachev's the kind of guy you want going outside his comfort zone. But When You Are Not At Home largely sticks to the aesthetic he's been pushing for years.
It's clear the tracks on this album weren't produced with a larger project in mind. They're a combination of older, unreleased tunes and newer tracks that, by the sound of things, were made as standalone pieces. This was a chance to get a fresh window into the world of Tolkachev, an eccentric artist who gives his releases names like What Are You Thinking, Little Duck?, "Better Play With My Balls" and "That's Where The Dog Is Buried." When You Are Not At Home could have been his magnum opus, but we'll need to keep waiting for that.
A3 When You Are Not At Home
B1 Mostly Harmless
C2 Disposable Killer
D1 And Then She Fell
D2 Five Grams Will Be OK
E2 The Story Of Someone
E3 See You Tomorrow
E4 A Small Fortune
F2 Vot I Vse