- Each drop in Patrice Bäumel's "The Hatchet" transports you to the set of a gameshow, where the host has just revealed a bombshell plot twist as a high-impact burst of synth overawes the shocked contestants. It's so dramatic that it's almost comical, slapstick even, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're in the business of shock and awe. The overall aesthetic and construction recalls big-room minimal from around a decade ago. A rolling congo pattern with a slow LFO on the pitch mirrors the robotic quality of the era, as do the clinical dub techno chords and pin-prick percussion. While many of Bäumel's contemporaries mine woe-is-me chord progressions, this steely approach is refreshing. But any notion of restraint is quashed by those drops: white noise, hissing hats and an echoed vocal combine into such a huge crest by the five-minute mark that the aftermath leaves you dazed. Predictable? Yes. Effective? No doubt.
"Serpent" also reaches death-defying heights, using a wildly panned arp as a launchpad to capital-E euphoria. Compared with the A-side, the overall texture is crisp and glassy, with a high-end that makes your inner-ear stand to attention. While "The Hatchet" has a semblance of a heads-down techno vibe, "Serpent" skews to the proggy end of the big-room spectrum. The final drop, which also arrives around the five-minute mark, leaves you thinking, "How did Patrice get away with this one?" In a storm of wailing white noise and high frequencies, he artfully sneaks in a low pad, providing a crafty moment of anticipation before the full weight of the mix blows through. While neither track has much character, both sides are tailor-made to get the confetti cannons firing. On that front, they succeed.
A The Hatchet