Aubrey - Crimson Nebular

Label: Solid Groove - SG-32
Format: Vinyl, 12", EP
Country: UK
Released: Feb 2015
Style: Techno

The last couple of years have seen the resurfacing of many producers that once held high standing in the underground house and techno scene, be they of UK origin, Icelandic, or otherwise. Even though many of them have continued to produce and release music, they slowly faded into semi-obscurity over the years.

One such producer is Allen Saei, better known as Aubrey. Altough he's never really disappeared from the scene and has continued to release music on labels such as Dot, Komplex de Deep, Mowar and a few others, not many people have paid much attention to his recent developments and it's quite a shame, to be honest. He's one of the United Kingdom most prolific producers to date, alongside people such as Mark Ambrose and Steve O'Sullivan, both of whom seem to have also stood up lately and started gathering newfound popularity after many years.

Aubreys latest release is featured on his own imprint, Solid Groove. Solid Groove has been around for a very long time, it's very first release came out 24 years ago, and it's by all accounts, Aubrey's first ever single release. Back in 1991, No Intelligent Life (NIL) came out blazing, and Allen brought forth a style of techno that was both groovey and hard -heart attack inducing BPMs, big boomy kicks, catchy rhythmic melodies and, of course, acid. That was the formula that worked wonders for Aubrey in the early years of his career.

Fast forward to today, Solid Groove has reached its 32nd release. It might seem an odd number for this long of a timespan, but you know what they say - quality over quantity.

The first track on the release is a reshape of "Crimson Nebular" by none other than Icelandic techno mogul Exos, and it's by far the most different sounding remix of the bunch. The main melody that the other three remixers saw fit to use in their respective interpretations is replaced by a sort of tribal song, and it's anything but Nordic sounding. Couple that with delayed bongos, rattles, bells and all manner of percussion and you're instantly transported to some sort of ancient tropical jungle, surrounded by reverbs and the odd horn every now and then. That is, up till the mid of the 3rd minute when everything stops, the rattles slowly fade in and out, bongos playfully skip and weirdness rears its head in through a twist of bells. It's a bit confusing and might phase some people, but soon enough things get back on track, and the tunnel resumes till the very end. It's dancefloor techno, pure and simple, efficient and with a twist.

A2, the original, starts off slower than the Exos remix and it's a lot more detailed and syncopated. Aubrey creates small intricate rhythms with the use of white noise hi hats, cyclic background noise and the odd clap here and there followed by another offbeat clap... and another clap. By the end of the 2nd minute, one of the claps assumes its role as a constant rhythmic component but only for a short while. The small repetitive melody that almost constantly backs the track up, alongside a small reverbed percussion give it a 2005 minimal techno feel but the track is much more than that. Every now and then, said melody subsides making room for the tracks main theme, used also by Lee Holman and Ed Davenport in their take on the track, and it's astonishingly beautiful, giving the track a certain early Detroit feel. As the track progresses, circa minute 4, another colder pad comes in and evolves into high pitched noises scattered across. From then on the track settles a bit, the background fills up with filtered white noise and we're back to the main theme. It's extremely well constructed, and after Exos's whirlwind it seems like a welcome breath of fresh air. Nothing wrong with the Exos remix, but the original is just that bit better. It's smart, it's clever and it's definitely techno that is worth listening to rather than just dancing to.

Next up, on the B1 Side we have Ed Davenports interpretation. Ed doesn't muck about, he lays it down hard and gripping but dreamy and dubby at the same time. It's more of a classic take, and will surely awe dancefloors throughout. The constant rising and modulation of the synth, the alternation between the two hats, shakers, and offbeat clap and the hammer like punch in between the kicks leaves little room for anything other than constant dancing. Aubrey surely made a great decision in granting Ed a chance to remix his track. It does it justice, incorporating the main theme later on in the track, chilling it a bit before breaking it down and resuming with a flurry of snares and rides that keep the track on a constant level until the very end. It seems rather odd as you would of expected this type of take from Exos. Still it's right up there, if not besting the Icelandics effort.

And finally, to top it off, Lee Holman takes it even further back in time, hardcore Scan 7 style. The early Dark Territory stuff on Tresor comes to mind as you hear the first kickdrum and that raunchy bass. Punchy repetitive chords keep it firmly grounded as hats, rides and claps push the track forward in the same repetitive rhythm. Distortion plays a big part in Lee's remix and he even goes as far as distorting the melody in the mid break, adding to the haunting effect of the original. It's enough to send shivers down your spine and you almost wish he would of played a bit more around with it before getting back on track. Fortunately enough, he does bring it back in, but only one note that repeats itself every 8th beat around the 5th minute. After that he slowly brings it down to nothing but the kickdrum, bass and the stabs. Looking back, it's the kind of track that could easily level a 2 story building, and I'm saying that in the best way possible.

All in all, Solid Groove 32 has a little bit of everything for the average techno head. Starting with Exos's ethnic influenced percussion monster, Aubreys delicate and minimalistic original, or the powerhouses that Ed and Lee managed to bring to the table, it's one release that you will not want to miss.