- Dustin Zahn's laser-focused techno loosens up a little.
- Although Dustin Zahn has been putting out records since 2003, his star really began to rise as the likes of Adam Beyer and Chris Liebing championed his brand of lean, precise techno a decade later. Almost ten years on from then tastes and trends have changed, but Zahn has remained one of the most consistent producers of functional, Midwest-style techno. His alliances have shifted from Drumcode to Rekids (he also runs his own label, Enemy Records), closes Berghain from time-to-time and even has dalliances with the pop world, working and touring with indie rock band Poliça. His latest record, Gain Of Function, is filled with the industrial strength weaponry he's known for, but the album also features some of his deepest grooves and a sly wink or two.
"Tangie Groove" is our first taste of Zahn's lighter mood. The track sits somewhere between Detroit techno and post-dubstep: the chords have a Millsian unease to them, but the occasional plonk of a wooden drum adds some swing under the breathy vocal sample. This is a warm-up to album closer and highlight, "Next Level Looseness," where Zahn really reworks his kicks to go full Hessle Audio with detuned wind instruments and car horns screeching over pulsing sub-bass.
The rest of the album is solid, journeyman techno. "Crimson Cheeks" is dubby, almost muted, adding a layer of haze. He also plays with reverb on "Smoking in Silence," but the effect is less sensual and more mischievous: the synth trips across the stereo with a slapstick humor. It's in moments like these where we get to see past the serious press photos and occasional lapse into generic greyscale techno aesthetics for album art. Zahn is, after all, a funny guy (Exhibit A: his podcast series, Train Wrecks, where he drinks natural wine and vodka for upwards of three hours with his DJ friends.) Moments like "Smoking in Silence" and "Next Level Looseness" Gain Of Function show Zahn loosening up sonically. Hell, by the end of the final track, I was ready for Zahn to make a dubstep record.
01. Tell Me About Paraddise
02. Tangie Groove
03. Lucid Dreams
04. Smoking In Silence
05. Crimson Cheeks
06. Days Like These
07. Shark Rodeo feat. Jeremy Black
08. Next Level Looseness