- The best Ilian Tape record in some time.
- Since Ilian Tape's sound began to consolidate around 2012, it's become synonymous with what is often loosely described as broken techno, thanks to a preference for syncopation, implied breakbeats and booming Shed-school kicks. In hindsight, Stenny was a crucial component of this sound coming together, and Stress Test helps push the label into even more properly syncopated territory than ever before.
This is largely thanks to the A-side, which uses the high-tensile flex of 2-step and early grime's pump-action stutter to shoot new life into the Ilian Tape aesthetic. The title track in particular fulfils 2-step's darker, El-B-style tendencies while adhering to the minimalism expected of a producer coming from a techno perspective. It will prove mighty useful for DJs looking to bridge gaps between the two styles. "ElasTCT" has the whiff of an early Wizzbit cut but with additional hyperactive drum work and those Ilian Tape-style implied breaks. That said, the overall weight places it in techno territory, and the appearance of 909 rides strengthens the connection even while the groove's stop-start action suggests otherwise. While it's not as much of a sure shot as "Stress Test," its qualities are similarly redeeming within the context of the larger Ilian Tape catalogue.
"Adequate Force" hews closer to Stenny's kinetic, rolling style but gestures refreshingly towards electro and the more tasteful end of early-'00s nu breaks. It's another commendably restrained composition bereft of any melodic sentimentality or unnecessary pads. "Fail Better" offsets the rest of the EP's spartan palette with another Ilian Tape signature—smudged euphoric chords—but once again provides a more interesting rhythmic chassis than we've heard recently, using a spritely tempo and nimble drum programming to create a relatively light-on-its-feet feel for the label. The appearance of these reference points goes a long way to reinvigorating what has been a dependable sound over the past five years and bodes well for future Ilian Tape releases.
01. Stress Test
03. Adequate Force
04. Fail Better (Bent Mix)