- The dub techno producer's latest LP finds him in thrilling form.
- Rod Modell, better known as DeepChord, makes billowing ambient and ultra-foggy dub techno. Many of the releases on his echospace [detroit] label feature tracks that seem to go on forever, and under his given name he's made droning, hour-long compositions. But Captagon, released on Tresor, cuts through all that. Here, the Detroit artists surfaces from the dub techno murk to deliver some of his most crucial work in ages. Fast, confident and sleek, Captagon shows how Modell's prowess for beautiful, detailed, sprawling techno can translate to the dance floor.
All the usual DeepChord sounds are here: fizzing ambience, dub effects, percolating basslines, kick drums that sound like they're treading water. But it's all harder, faster and stronger. The tempo regularly surpasses 140 BPM, which gives the LP a driving force we haven't heard from Modell in a long time. Much of Captagon feels a bit like hurtling down a subway tunnel, consumed by the sound and chaos of motion itself.
In fact, Captagon is all about motion, a kinetic energy that seems to loosen up Modell. You won't hear the trancey melodies of "Tracer" anywhere else in his recent catalogue. But Modell still finds room for extra sound in the nooks and crannies of this music—vocal chatter, indistinct murmurs and a whole lot of whispery sounds. These details make Modell's techno immersive without reducing its momentum.
It might seem odd for Modell to use his given name, previously reserved for ambient releases, on a techno album. But Captagon is not a DeepChord LP—those are reserved for lofty efforts with a conceptual bent, which sometimes got lost in their own ambition. This album is just the good stuff, the kind of rushing techno Tresor has been releasing for decades.
It's inspiring to hear Modell so invigorated. Even if he isn't redefining dub techno, he's attacking it with an intensity and velocity that feels new, which makes Captagon a thrill all the way from the opening swell of "Triangulation" to the delightfully crunchy kick drums of "Air-Port." Coming from a producer so often concerned with complexity, Captagon is vitally straightforward.