The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Vibrant Forms (Reissue) Theo Darton-Moore , December 4th, 2013 09:18

Founded in 1995 as a successor to Mark Ernestus & Moritz Von Oswald's legendary Basic Channel imprint, Chain Reaction became arguably equally as groundbreaking over its eight year lifespan. Indeed, it's hard to believe the label's compilation of Kostas Soublis (aka Fluxion)'s assorted records, Vibrant Forms, was released a decade and a half ago; the record's billowing mediation between hazy dub-techno and immersive ambience sounding as ethereal and otherworldly today as it would have done back in 1999.

As is the case with many Chain Reaction (and indeed Basic Channel) releases, owning a complete set of the 12”s Vibrant Forms draws from probably would have cost you a small fortune. Luckily Type Records saw fit to take up the challenge of reissuing the originally CD-only released compilation as a double-vinyl LP, more than likely disgruntling a few Discogs monopolists in the process.

It's easy to forget that this is a compilation rather than a pre-thought out album release; Soublis' talent at crafting slow-building atmospheres and dense soundscapes perfectly suited to an extended work. Intoxicating opener 'Lark' makes as fine an example of this as any, warm, cavernous stabs gently undulating beneath brittle, sauntering percussion, building patiently alongside Soublis' stumbling melodies.

Listening through the works of acts like Deepchord, it's not hard to see where the ambient-techno mantle has been picked up from; the shimmering 'Largo', or the hypnotic rolling grooves of 'Pendoulous' calling to mind their 2012 album Sommer. Closer 'Opaque' pushes deeper textures even further, while 'Influx' sheds rhythm entirely, blasting out vapourous chords calling to mind Wolfgang Voigt's work as Gas. A submerged low-end quakes beneath Soublis' simmering, opiate drones, gently filtering between one another.

Despite the prevalence of atmosphere and ambience throughout the album, for the most part Soublis still manages to keep things propulsive and dancefloor-ready. 'Fovea Centralis' begins with a driving analogue four to the floor pulse, before introducing submerged washes of synth and thumping bass. 'Lapses' follows a similar format, yet is an even more kinetic offering. Rushing hi-end and stuttered claps stumble over a sturdy kick pattern, working up to a head-spinning climax in the tracks closing segment.

Where Basic Channel laid the foundations for the dub-techno sound, Chain Reaction arguably went about exploring its outer limits. Similarly to label partners such as Vladislav Delay or Vainqueur, Soublis' works seem to have barely dated at all in the last fifteen tears. And at a time when a boundless pursuit of harder and more aggressive sounds seems to be the principle aim in certain strands of the techno scene, Vibrant Forms' intoxicating, meditative techno is particularly welcome.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.