- Irrepressibly upbeat '90s techno fusions, 2021 style.
- Following last year's exquisite album of dubbed-out IDM throwbacks, Dream_E returns with an EP that takes that autumnal, sepia-hued vibe to a vibrant summer garden party. Crushed, despite its name, features four catchy techno cuts that highlight a brighter side of the sound, with pitch-perfect production values and mixdowns that make it the kind of record that perks up your ears from the very first note.
Just listen to a few seconds of the lead track, "Looped II Infinity," and its pounding drum pattern, swirling arpeggio and gauzy vocal sample—this is techno engineered to tickle those pleasure centres. Even at its most bottom-heavy, like the Shed-influenced stomper "Radiant," Dream_E's music feels nimble. "Freefall" takes the pitter-patter of jungle and pairs it with dense, dive-bombing basslines for the textural contrast that defines the records from jungle's mid-'90s peak.
If I had to pick just one track, though, it would be "Love Mixxed," which centres around a vocal sample saying, "Well, I know what I want—I want a Funktion-One and enough booze for everyone." The track feels vintage in more than one way—its shimmering sustain synths, the way its snare-kick interplay feels like jabs from a boxer—but it also has a strong communal spirit, as underlined by its cute if slightly silly vocal sample. Who wouldn't want to hear "enough booze for everyone" deep into the night on a dance floor?
"Love Mixxed" is also underlined by the artist's real-life circumstances—last fall, Dream_E developed encephalitis, narrowly avoiding death. Proceeds from Crushed will go towards the Encephalitis Society charity, shading the EP with a mixture of melancholy, hope and triumph, all emotions you can feel emanating from these tracks even if you didn't know the backstory. It sounds like he just wants everyone to have fun alongside him, grateful for another go on the dance floor.
01. Loop II Infinity
03. Love Mixxed