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Naum Gabo
F.Lux Jon Buckland , March 5th, 2024 10:20

Optimo’s Jonnie Wilkes and mastering engineer James Savage summon the ghosts of people rutting in the shadows of a Berlin nightclub, finds Jon Buckland

Just in case you’re not aware, if you get into the notorious Berlin nightclub, Berghain, one of the first things that the staff will do is cover your mobile phone’s camera lens in stickers. The sort of gooey stickers that leave a cloudy, viscous residue once unpeeled. You’re not supposed to document the goings on inside that looming building which straddles Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. What happens in Berghain, stays in Berghain.

Of course it never does. What you experience, you take with you. Events that transpire are whispered about in hushed and excited tones. That’s part of how the legend of this place spread. That and the intimidating bouncer’s strict yet abstruse door policy.

But, let’s say that you get beyond the bouncer, past the camera obscurers, up the metal staircase, along the steel-grilled flooring possibly appropriated from The Crystal Maze’s Industrial Zone, and onto the spacious dance floor beneath overhanging concrete slabs. The chances are that, out of the corner of even the most naive eye, you’ll see people fucking.

All of which is to say that Naum Gabo’s new record F.Lux takes me back there.

Formed from the twin skills of Optimo’s Jonnie Wilkes and mastering engineer James Savage, Naum Gabo’s debut deals in dense mood and atmospherics before going all in on bucking and pumping techno throughout the album’s back third. Prior to the rhythmic catharsis, there’s trepidation and apprehension in the air. Both ‘Aora’ and ‘Haerstag’ give the impression of exploring an unseen yet otherworldly plain. Clanks, pops, and burring drones add to the Raime-like sense of foreboding whilst buried melodies struggle to reach the surface.

‘Hebust Cometh’, with its prowling bass growl like the slow, grunting engine crawl of a cruising car, does little to ease the tension. Especially as it follows the muffled voice repeatedly declaring “Drunk driving” through electronic agitation and distorted beats on ‘Schinokapsala’

F.Lux is not without its lightness, however. Euphoric chords pierce the gloom like luminous darts within wilting mist on ‘Tolis’ and, during ‘This 1¨º∆’, pulsing steel shards suddenly burst into life with a rapid heart-rate-monitor-squealed flurry.

All of this is building up to the firecracker one-two finale of ‘Nothing In My Hand’ and ‘Parasymptofeli’. The former’s persistent beat and grinding bassline morphs disquiet into ego-stripping propulsion, leaving those early spacious ruptures in the past. The album closer extends this further still as it explodes into an aggy walloper. This is the grisly, blackened techno of Downwards, with inhibitions disintegrated through whipped rhythms, bludgeoning kick drums, and a psychedelic mind-clearing assault.

It’s a cliche to talk about ‘losing yourself in the music’ but, with these disconcerting yet increasingly hedonistic and bombastic tracks, Naum Gabo have captured a unique and transcendental journey from nerve-racking super club entry through to the potential conclusion of pressure-dropped dance floor abandon. Just keep your eyes peeled if you’re going all in.