- Ethereal techno made for both dawn and dusk.
- Ryan James Ford is one of the most consistent (and occasionally overlooked) techno producers out there. Arriving on the scene in the mid-2010s with an apprenticeship on Marcel Dettman's MDR label, he's been turning out moody, sub-heavy techno littered with references to the best of the '90s, from IDM to drum & bass. Ford's appeal is largely down to the way he brings together poignant and wistful melodies alongside blistering techno structures. Last year's Fish Flakes EP, for example, could easily soundtrack a Berlin Starter Pack meme. But even in destruction mode, he still smuggles beauty into the high end. On his latest EP, Kaki, which is composed of alternate takes from a forthcoming album, he tips the scales in the other direction, turning out his most experimental and headsy record to date, exploring the textures of techno without his usually pummeling tempos.
Opener "D614G (Rough Mix)" is steely techno only in terms of its kick drums, while the ascending melodies and buried vocals are beautiful and contemplative. It reminds me of the fading wisps of bass pulses as you make your way out of the club. The scurrying breaks that start "2CB_Ind" suggest banger, but the plaintive chords that engross the song are just a tad too gentle for the big room. "Kaki (Deep 2 Dub)" is certainly mixable, but its dubby synthline and reverb drenched drums also seemed aimed at hotbox-in-your-car ruminations. Ford has said before that he makes "comedown music" for the end of the night, and this is its purest distillation.
But Kaki is comedown music where the club remains in sight, or at least in recent memory. This is, after all, a techno EP with some proper weapons. "Flex Out (Expansive Mix)" is a two-minute sketch in which rumbling breaks and a barrage of synths move across the stereo field with sniper-like precision, while "Jumping Pound Creek" is paranoid and anxious techno that could hold its own with the best of 'em. Listening to Kaki, I couldn't help but think of Skee Mask's Pool. Like the music Bryan Müller makes, Ford's work retains elements of rough-and-ready techno, but imbues it with a softness. These tracks sound just as good mixed at peak time as they do in that post-club afterglow, piped through your headphones as you trace constellations on your way home.
01. D614g (Rough Version)
02. Flex-Out (Expansive Mix)
03. Jumping Pound Creek
04. Kaki (Deep 2 Dub)