Artist: Mark Meino
Release Date: 2015 Sept 03
Genre: Minimal Techno
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: Deep-X Recordings
I think by now you are probably wondering if you are reading a review on the right website if you’ve heard me rant about my dislike of house and techno music before. But I swear, this isn’t going to be another one of those rants about techno or house music.
Amplitude by Mark Meino
This was another one of those releases that I put into a playlist recently without looking at it or sampling it first. It was just a release that was new and I thought would be worth giving a spin. When it came on I was laying in bed, trying to fall asleep. Instead this release woke me up.
The reason it grabbed my attention is because of the first track: Express. It started off with engine and train noises,and a minimal beat with an interesting “whoo whoo” sound that I thought was an owl. I was confused as the sound of a snare and bass line started to build, and the whole thing started to take on the impression of being a train. The later addition of second “woot woot” whistle made it clear that this was both a dance track and a sound-sculpture at the same time. What impressed me the most is that the sound of the piece is mostly created using found sounds with minimal instrumentation.
So, I was thinking this was a more interesting release at first. Then Amplitude started and it was a bit of a let down: much more typical pounding beat techno style. But I noticed that there was a bit of unusual sound in the background. Then there was a break: the beat faded into the background, and distorted voices came in over the top just briefly before beat came back up. It was an interesting bit, and it would be reflected again later in another break with minimal synthesizer lines and distorted beast-like voices again.
So this release has a bit more of my attention as it is one of the more interesting, if somewhat creepy, techno releases I’ve heard.
Sylenth Power opens with this unusual staccato bass line and interesting bits of reverb that builds into a dance beat, while the bass line keeps things moving forward. A more insistent dance piece with only a single break in it, but still an interesting piece. Again, not a lot of fake simplistic melodic line, more found sounds layered with minimal bass and a beat. Quite creepy.
Illusion is probably the track I found the most tedious. Heavy heart-beat like bass drum at the core, little layers of rhythmic bits over it. Still something closer to the found sounds bits, but nothing as surprising or interesting as the first three tracks. The second break is nice, getting to hear the howling wind, and the introduction of ghostly voices at the end of the break is cool. But it seems like this is the kind of thing that we’ve come to expect on this release. It’s definitely not as strong as the earlier tracks.
The final track is 2 Dub. It almost feels like an after thought to the release. It uses more standard instruments and a dub style with a heavy beat. Okay for dancing, but nothing that really makes me want to listen to it over the first four tracks.
So, I would say this is an uneven release. I really like the first three tracks. They grabbed my attention and surprised me by changing my expectations of techno music. It doesn’t completely turn my expectations on their ear (so to speak), but they definitely showed me that there is some invention that can be done with the form, and it can successfully integrate more experimental elements. The last couple of tracks were less successful in this area, but they are still solid techno tracks. Overall I’d give this one a listen, even if you aren’t all that into techno music like me.