- An LP of dub and electro-fused techno from the weirdo edges of electronic music.
- Given the completely singular universe that DJ Sotofett has created, it seems hard to imagine how the Norwegian producer could surprise us at this point. Across his many imprints and collaborations, he's created a sound that is singular yet elastic, unified only by his penchant for the strange and zany. While Laura Sparrow, AKA LNS, has more of a defined aesthetic—one that mines vintage IDM, electro, and techno—she's also hard-to-pin down, especially when she works with Sotofett. Even with the bar set so high, there are still unexpected moments on Sputters, the duo's first collaborative LP. When the Disney-soundtrack adjacent strings hit on "Shim," for example, my eyes light up. It's the sort of silly sparkle the two have played with before (check out the "Club Mix" from their Jugando Con Fuego 12-inch), but the track sounds harder and tougher than previous outings. It's this gristle that makes this LP stand out. Sotofett and Sparrow graph their stylistic flamboyance onto rough-and-ready electro-leaning techno.
That's probably the biggest surprise about this record: the electro-soldered techno that makes up the majority of Sputters is remarkably straightforward. Take "Sputtering." It's the record's leanest and meanest track with an arpeggiated synth rearing its teeth as it tries to break off its leash with hits of womp that sound lifted off a dubstep record. "Cellular Coolant" has an absolutely killer break where the delay on each drum feels like the whole track will collapse. But, lest we get too comfy at peak time, Sotofett and Sparrow ensure we get some respite when things get dubby. "Dúnn Dubbing" recalls Sotofett's digi-dub masterpiece Drippin' For A Tripp, but the drums have a bit of Sparrow's edge. "El Dubbing" is the perfect meeting ground of the two producers, a sort of IDM meets dub meets electro track where the synths have Warp flavoring alongside deep reverby chords.
Both sides of the album come together on centerpiece, "The 606." The track was apparently made as a way to convince Sparrow not to sell her drum machine. I have little doubt that she's now hanging onto hers, just as I'm sure this track will send a few aspiring producers towards eBay listings. The drum machine is taken to its limit as the song starts with melodic 90s techno before totally flipping the script, locking into one of Sotofett's dub-meets-house grooves led by a buoyant piano line and cascading hand drums.
Listening to Sputters, I kept coming back to the fact that Tresor is the label releasing it. It's a canny move by the techno juggernaut. Although Tresor's name can sometimes get bandied about as shorthand for an old guard of techno, the label has remained consistently versatile in the past 30 years, both in terms of the styles of music it releases and by championing exciting new producers alongside legacy artists (the mammoth 30th anniversary release includes Jeff Mills and Anthony "Shake" Shakir next to Nene H and SHE Spells Doom after all). But it's also an exciting label from Sotofett and Sparrow's perspective. The two have made careers in the leftfields of the dance music underground. It must surely be a welcome feather in their hats that their trademark weirdness is getting the stamp of approval from such a storied institution.
01. Enter 323
02. K.O. by E-GZR
03. El Dubbing
04. Dúnn Dubbing
06. Inter 323
09. Restart 323
10. The 606
12. Synchronic Bass Blort
14. Outrospect 323
15. Cellular Coolant