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A Magazine for Sheffield

Sleep Complex

Moe Espinoza, or Drumcell, to call him by his nom de techno, has recently become a member of the ever increasing lineup on Chris Liebling's modestly titled CLR imprint. This LA native comes from a rock background but now makes very little other than unbridled, four-to-the-floor tracks to be best appreciated in dark rooms on big speakers.

His first offering on CLR comes in the shape of Sleep Complex, a 12-track album with a bonus track on the digital release for good measure. I have had a mixed relationship with CLR in the past. At times they represent the pinnacle of modern techno, while at others the music loses itself in overzealous geekery at the expense of real musical soul. I was curious as to which of these categories Sleep Complex would lean towards.

Drumcell is clearly a man who spends a long time honing his sound. Much of the record has a repetitive, hypnotic quality and the sound design is really first-rate. Beneath the growling bass and the pounding kick drums, there are some intensely absorbing soundscapes and very interesting modular synth noises. Actually, calling the bass ‘growling’ might not quite do it justice; the bass is absolutely huge on this record and while it never swamps the sounds, it packs a serious punch. Make no mistake, these tracks will really make big impression on the dancefloor.

Although the album opens with harder club techno, as it progresses a different side of Drumcell emerges. The 4/4 rhythms give way to more interesting patterns and the ambience takes the fore in one or two tracks. Within the repetitive nature of much of the music, there is intrigue and variety for the bedroom listener. That said, the bulk of this record’s appreciation will probably come from the dancefloor, where the immaculate bass and drums will have their biggest impact. There is introspection here, but it is not as impressive as the cold-hearted techno. Once in the hands of a DJ, they will stand out of the crowd and I can't wait to get the chance to hear them on a bigger soundsystem.

This is not techno at its best, but it merits a listen on several fronts.