- The influence of Toronto's dance music scene waxes and wanes. High prices make Toronto prone to brain drains that, combined with tough licensing laws, squeeze out all but the most hardy of venues and promoters. These problems aren't unique to Toronto, but they have hit it particularly hard in the last few years. Thanks to a few groups of young and dedicated enthusiasts, however, a whole new techno scene has grown from small venues, sweaty basements and unassuming SoundCloud accounts. Forth Vol. 1, the first compilation on a new label of the same name, is a handy showcase for this new hotbed of activity. The six-track collection highlights a handful of Toronto's most exciting artists.
There's palpable hype around two names in particular: Ciel, a promoter, DJ and producer making waves around the world, and Joel Eel, who dazzles with his live sets. Eel begins Forth Vol. 1 with a bracing EBM number, while Ciel goes greyscale with a techno track packed with odd squiggles and an arpeggio that sounds like a harpsichord. These defiant streaks of individuality define this crew, where even the most straightforward number, Gingy's acidic "Mike Monkey," sounds like it's limping through a puddle of thick goop. On the other hand, R's "Weight" is aerodynamic, bounding between sections of breaks like an excited toddler.
The remaining tracks align the Forth crew with the larger EBM- and industrial-inspired movement in techno globally. Hadi's "Master" is a noxious piece of industrial-strength acid techno, while Kontravoid's "Disclosure" is a spiky blend of synth pop and electroclash. They're both stylish tracks that could fit into sets from the likes of Phase Fatale or Tzusing. That these young artists from Toronto sound so in tune with the best techno coming out of Europe and Asia hints at the city's potential techno renaissance, or, at the least, a new generation of homegrown talent.
A1 Joel Eel - This Invisible Phantom
A2 Gingy - Mike Monkey
A3 R - Weight
B1 Ciel - Erhu Jam
B2 Hadi - Master
B3 Kontravoid - Disclosure