- Token celebrates 100 releases with one of the year's biggest techno records so far.
- It's hard to imagine an artist more influential on the sound of today's techno, from big-tent festivals to the most underground dance floors, than Luke Slater. His tracks, especially as Planetary Assault Systems, are brawny but intricate, with small details or hints of melody nestled between the slamming kick drums. Belgian label Token has been almost as important in defining techno over the last decade and a half—always straightforward, sometimes weird, often catchy. Now Token celebrates its 100th release with its first EP from Slater, which has the potential to be one of the biggest techno records of the year. And it's not just name-brand hype. Say It Loud features Slater at both his tightest and most off-the-cuff, a four-track EP that sounds like it was a blast to make. It underlines the Token ethos and feels like a victory lap for one of techno's most consistent platforms, delivering more of the good stuff with a surprise or two up its sleeve.
Beginning with "Bang Wap," Say It Loud is Planetary Assault Systems at its most elemental. The rhythm section has all the subtlety of a bulldozer, paired with an almost belligerent lead that shudders and writhes instead of playing out a coherent melody. There's a big white noise whoosh towards the end that sounds like it was made for this summer's festival stages, but it's also deep in the mix enough to keep it from becoming obnoxious. "Bolt" is the most archetypal cut, with a carefully sculpted kick sound and the kind of sonar ping FM synthesis synonymous with Slater. It's no-frills techno as aerodynamic as a Lamborghini, which could make "Bolt" the most popular tune with DJs.
But I'd wager the anthem on Say It Loud is the title track, a curveball that pays off big time. Taut and funky, it's loaded with jabbing drum lines and excitable rhythmic hiccups, not to mention a deadpan chopped vocal sample that makes it instantly recognizable from the first listen. With its intense percussion and unusually chaotic arrangement, it sounds almost like Slater's house-informed LB Dub Corp alias remixing a Dance Mania record. The closing track "Shine," with its chirpy, starry-sky melodies, offers a good set-ender, finishing off a remarkably well-rounded 12-inch that highlights the mission of both artist and label. No gimmicks, just four cuts of well-crafted and subtly creative techno from two of the most consistent players in the game.
01. Bang Wap
03. Say It Loud