Buttechno - badtrip

  • This leftfield techno full-length is one of Buttechno's most entertaining releases yet.
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  • Buttechno first appeared on Trip in 2018, but he was a big deal for people in the know much earlier. He founded the John's Kingdom collective to promote music from Moscow's suburbs, has a close relationship with the essential Gost Zvuk label, and soundtracks the fashion shows for the post-Soviet icon Gosha Rubchinskiy. These projects are just a few of his undertakings and have a particular commonality—they reflect on the identity of a modern-day Russia. On Buttechno's new album, badtrip, some of his productions engage in a similar mode of introspective national exploration. Take "Rokton." It was produced using the Soviet drum module of the same name and a synth called Ritm-2, a domestic analogue of the TB-303 with a grittier sound. Buttechno may be mostly known as a techno producer but he has always ventured into other genres, especially under his real name, Pavel Milyakov. This year's ambient LP La Maison De La Mort showed off his minimalist approach to musique concrète and a desire to explore the potential of simple sounds. On "U.D.U.," he repeats that process at a higher tempo, playing with the reverse delay and switching up the speed and pitch. "j become" is dotted with abrupt record scratches, echoing one of Buttechno's influences: the experimental classical composer Shiva Feshareki, who's known for using turntables to remix recorded material. Without being excessively conceptual (or dull), badtrip is full of interesting details. "BBBASE" is a roomy track that offers ample space to mix over, yet contains dynamic chords and vocal accents. Odd vocals are a common feature across the album, as well as in Buttechno's previous work and Trip's overall output, exposing an interest in the spoken word and its manipulation. On the lead single, "pkds," Buttechno uses voice as one of the core basslines, building up a catchy swing around its pulse. "tr-919" uses the same vocal device in a grainy lower pitch, turning classic '80s lasers into distinctly contemporary acid twists. On "h9s," the vocals are secondary, and so are the assorted hollow beats behind the fat, bubbly bassline, which are some of the most satisfying sounds I've ever heard. The album's name is a fitting description for a recent crisis in the career of the label's boss, Nina Kraviz. Her role in spotlighting the local scene is hard to overstate and, apart from being one of the world's leading DJs, she unites international and Russian artists under one trippy umbrella. The country has always endured some isolation—whether through language, media, travel or other aspects of cultural life—and it seems to have helped many artists to carve their peculiar sound. But it has also caused a disconnect with the values of the scene that originally emerged on the other side of the Atlantic. Compared to the US or EU, there are few people of colour in Russia. To put it in perspective, I noticed fewer than ten when I lived in St. Petersburg for a few months earlier this year, so it's a particular blind spot. The awareness of the surrounding issues is low, and casual racism—as well as an internalised, unconscious acceptance of it—is common. But there are multiple ethnicities in Russia's many republics, and plentiful diasporas from neighbouring Asian countries and the African continent, that I hardly see represented on either lineups or labels. As the scene gains prominence, I hope it starts looking inwards—not only for exciting sounds, but for solutions to problems that have begun to surface.
  • Tracklist
      01. BBBASE 02. U.D.U. 03. j become 04. ferenz-18 05. pkds 06. tr-919 07. rokton 08. wb movement 09. h9s