Marc Romboy & Ken Ishii // Taiyo [Systematic Recordings]
The press release for this package accurately describes this collaboration as ‘bringing together two heavyweights of techno’ but for those of you unfamiliar with their work, the meeting of Marc Romboy and Ken Ishii is more akin to Ali/Frazier than Haye/Chisora, such are the levels of class and quality involved. That said, given that they don’t even have to be in each other’s company, it is so much easier for artists to collaborate on projects these days and as such, hook ups between producers that excite on paper can often disappoint in practice – thankfully we have no such problems here.
Taiyo begins with a nice atmospheric pad, shortly before the pulsating low end arrives, the bass rumble sounding like a clumsy machine kicking into action – interest is already at a considerable level before the introduction of some sparse percussion, and then the kick drum comes in and the sense of anticipation rises even higher. As the pad quickly drifts off into the background we are left with a stunning display of raw power, and the fragile percussion alongside it gives it a lovely ramshackle quality, as if the whole track could fall apart at the seems at any time – a nice open hat then brings a bit more stability, and then two minutes in we start to go up through the keys and the excitement builds even further – we are then presented with the main melody, a twisted, off-key affair whose weirdness sits perfectly within its surroundings.
The pad then returns shortly before the halfway point before the kick is removed and the track now has us floating around in an ethereal, dream like state – the low end is always lingering about in the shadows though, and is soon thrust into the foreground again, and we’re off one more time. The melody reappears as the rest of the track starts to malfunction brilliantly around it – then, as the curtain starts to come down on the track, everything is again stripped away and we are left to float off into the ether, a beautifully gentle finish to a track that demonstrates a real brutal edge at times.
My only slight criticism is that we never get a flat out, driving bass-cymbal-snare section, but it is a minor complaint – this is brilliantly dark and atmospheric, as all good techno should be, but with some genuinely beautiful moments too. I love music that gives me good pictures in my head, and from a synesthesia point of view it sounds to me like an alien invasion in an industrial town – but with everything turning out alright in the end.
OCH’s Tokyo Dawn remix is very much the undercard here in more ways than one, and feels very much like a missed opportunity, unfortunately. We get insistent synth stabs and punchier beats and not a lot more for the first three minutes – sometimes less is more, but not here, and my interest was seriously starting to wane by the three minute mark. At this point the rarely heard distorted piano chords from the original come in and there is a real sense of drama for a while, but again, we don’t really move on from here – at first we think that the nice open spaces in the main breakdown are going to lead to a real build up of tension but sadly it’s not to be, and by the end of the track the incessant snippet of the main melody from the original has become quite an irritant, unfortunately.
However, don’t let that put you off – the original makes this a very worthwhile package. Here’s hoping for a rematch very soon.
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Stevie Reid