- The relationship between techno and not-techno in Oscar Mulero's music goes back to his days in the mid-'90s Madrid scene. As he told RA's James Manning, he'd open nights at The Omen with the ambient music of the time—Aphex Twin, Autechre—before playing Jeff Mills and Dave Clarke at peak-time. His debut album, 2011's Green Fades To Grey, was structured to reflect this dichotomy: the "grey" part was techno, the "green" ambient. Mulero's music may have moved on since then, but this '90s idea of chill-out directs his latest pivot off the dance floor.
Sometimes you hear it in specific sounds, like the glitched-out broken beat groove of "Depth In Clarity," which calls to mind Autechre's early b-boy moves, and the balmy comedown synths in the second half of "Acceptance." Elsewhere it's more of an attitude: the use of brain-tickling downtempo syncopation with spacey sound design seems tailor-made for the reclining cyborg on the front of the Artificial Intelligence compilation. Still, this being the '10s, the cyborg wears black these days and has a tranche of gnarly tattoos.
"Exhale And Expand" aside, Mulero's experimental cuts come with a heavy funereal mood, with the titles that seal the deal. On several tracks, atonal synth parts echo through ominous crypt-like spaces. "Crux" frames them with an unsettled groove that, if pitched down a bit, could be Horo-style halftime drum & bass. "Edges Of Mortality" is firmer, and has a techno-like breakdown, in which the beat subsides to nothing before flickering back into sinister life.
A1 Inherent Progression
A3 Depth In Clarity
B2 Edges Of Mortality
B3 Exhale And Expand