The Icarus Kid (Adidas-tracksuit-wearing Seattle producer Dan Crowdus) made his live debut in 2009 at Re-bar's Bonkers! monthly (RIP), opening for San Francisco IDM/techno savant Sutekh. It was an auspicious bow, and it led to the Icarus Kid recording his first album for his own Electrowookie Records imprint (www.theicaruskid.com).
The Icarus Kid is a brash, ultravivid, hyperkinetic work that straddles the precarious line between cheeseball and sublime. Its 13 tracks are steeped in the Nintendo Entertainment System's bleep-osphere, which will automatically plunk nostalgic nerves with many humans who came of age in the 1980s and '90s. Using that tonal foundation, the Icarus Kid adds live keyboards and urgent, pumping beats to create compositions that make you feel like a lot is at stake.
Some tracks on The Icarus Kid—"Impulsive," "Octo Rock," "Hammer"—are geared for the imminent rave revival (not nu-rave, but real-deal fractal-ecstasy-elephant-bells rave music), with their speedy tempos and extreme high-frequency fibrillations. Others such as "Muramasa," "Fast Asleep," and "Game Over" veer into more ambitious, orchestral soundtrack territory. And yet others—"Dr. J," "Albatross," "Benny and Clyde," and "Maru Mari"—strut stratospherically and soar with melodic grandeur, like IDM masters Bogdan Raczynski and Astrobotnia. Whether he's in whimsical-knob-twiddler or serious-composer mode, the Icarus Kid displays a superb mastery of his tools. Expect more grandiose things from him.
Dwelling in much darker realms is the music of Onmutu Mechanicks (Glasgow's Arne Weinberg). His new album, Nocturne (Echocord; www.echocord.com), puts a distinctive spin on the sort of dub techno that's become ingrained in acolytes of the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction axis of production. (No surprise, then, that Echocord, BC/CR's most devout disciple, is releasing Nocturne.)
"Catatonic" opens the disc with beats much choppier than BC/CR's usual streamlined 4/4 propulsion, but it retains the trademark metallic oscillations that have animated the German labels' output since the mid '90s. This track and its awesome successor, "Aspiring to Aspire," indicate that Nocturne will display more rhythmic unpredictability than is typical for Echocord releases. The influence of Autechre and T++ works its way into Onmutu Mechanicks' menacing, murkily aquatic dub meditations.
This is techno that's accrued tons of barnacles and seaweed on its carcass. It's more for the flotation tank than it is for the dance floor, but one can envision some dubstep heads tapping their hash pipes in appreciation to it, too. "Lupos Moon," "Constant X," and "When You Return" are the closest things to Porter Ricks–style club bangers, but they're ultimately too subdued and downright creepy to rock a party. With Onmutu Mechanicks, less is morbid.
This story has been updated since its original publication.