- TRG seems to have his finger in every pie these days, dripping with influences from dubstep, rave, UK funky and techno. Cosmin Nicolae's 2010 output has been trending progressively weirder and weirder, and it seemed like on his last release ("See Other People" for Rush Hour) that these oddball tendencies were threatening to overtake his groove.
His first release for Untold's Hemlock label is his most overtly techno release yet, with the BPMs dipping below 130 and the sounds apparently inspired by Ostgut. This is still relatively new territory for Nicolae, which means he's not yet completely free from that awkward "transitional" stage. As such, his Hemlock release is the label's first that doesn't feel like a monumental and important success. It isn't a failure—these tracks are too interesting for that—but there's something quietly reserved about it, something that could be interpreted as either hesitance or complacence.
"Beton Brut" utilizes a submerged thump and scrapes-'n'-scratches to surprisingly muted effect, spending half of its duration building atmosphere so that when the pseudo-tribal beat finally drops it feels more like a rushed afterthought than a climax. The track's disjointed progression betrays a hasty eagerness to fold in everything, as if Nicolae is trying to express all of his recent influences and ideas at once. The subaqueous exploration is intriguing and admirably ambitious, but structurally flawed—there's a difference between experimentation and blind fumbling.
"Tower Block" is more successful, its fidgety shuffling syncopation propping up a monotonous (and undeniably brilliant) riff as it struggles to maintain dominance over the gurgling bass that erupts every few bars—for a moment it sounds almost like TRG still makes dubstep. However, it's probably better that he doesn't, because even if he's still finding his footing in the land of 4/4, few producers share his unique background and the appealingly skewed vision of techno that results.
A Tower Block
B Breton Brut