- Techno is innately suited to short stories—the beauty of the 12-inch format, in this case, is its limitations. Spread the narrative over an 80-minute canvas sans sufficient plot twists, and in almost all cases, things start to come apart at the seams. In discussion with RA's Richard Brophy late last year on the subject of his upcoming LP, Belgium producer Peter Van Hoesen seemed unfazed by the challenge that had tripped up so many before him. His ruse? Simply slow things down.
Of Entropic City's ten tracks, we're presented with four that can be found under this annex. And to a large extent, they are precisely the reason that the album should be considered as the most accomplished techno full-length since Shedding The Past.
Disciples of the artist would likely view such stylistic dalliances as unsurprising considering his prior work as a sound designer for mixed media, and output as an experimental practitioner under the Object and Vanno guises early last decade. But what even the ardently converted may not have anticipated is the way in which Entropic City shakes up an already wildly successful formula. The sound of Van Hoesen's peerless run of recent singles is distilled here to leave only the infrastructure of their 12-inch brethren, yet in many cases, cut denser, more complex figures. It's almost as though Van Hoesen afforded himself a creative headspace by discarding all that was sonically superfluous, and then fleshed out this skeleton for his here and now.
Both "Strip It, Boost It" and "Dystopian Romance" adhere triumphantly to this process of refinement by offering guiding lights in the fore, and more challenging articles in the back. The former plays out with microscopic conflicts and resolutions across the frequency field, while the latter's filter gently toys with an undulating synth, kicking up all sorts of nervous energy. "Quartz #1" meanwhile is like petting a muzzled beast—snarling and ugly yet oddly genial.
However arresting these floor-facing numbers may be, their light would only be diminished were it not for the album's sub-100 BPM shade. You could swing a cat between the beats of opener "Into Entropy." It serves as a delicious introduction to this grinding of the lower gears, while the two proceeding tracks—"Republic" and "Closing The Distance / Toy Universe"—skank like Modern Love's Andy Stott at his most entrancing. Thick dub-wise bass bothers the speakers, as deep-fried FM chords rain over scuffed up percussion, and, in the case of "Closing The Distance / Toy Universe," a pulsing and sustained synth line traps you in a state of warehouse stasis. The only mild disappointment is reserved for the final track "Defence Against the Self" which could have slotted in cutely at the album's mid-point, but in its pressed position at the conclusion seems a little way short of the stirring finale you perhaps would have hoped for. A far better candidate would have been the dubstep/not dubstep of preceding track "Colony / Return of the Object" which deftly reconfigures the clout and industrial grit of Torsten Pröfrock's T++ guise.
Had Van Hoesen not even bothered to put out Entropic City, his breathless run of 12-inches over these past two years would have been sufficient enough to see him cast among techno's foremost practitioners. That he did, not only solidifies this lofty position, but also raises many intriguing questions as to where he potentially goes from here. Sure, the slowing down of one's sound is no revelatory step. But to possess a purview pliable enough to shed 35 BPM and still retain the magic is why Entropic City is amongst techno's most compelling stories to date.
01. Into Entropy
03. Closing the Distance / Toy Universe
04. Dystopian Romance
06. Testing a Simulacrum
07. Strip It, Boost It
08. Quartz #1
09. Colony / Return of the Object
10. Defense Against the Self