Rave Culture

Emmanuel Beddewela flies high and hits hard with an album of solid banging rave-loving techno tunes.

In a calendar year which has been oddly low on marquee techno albums, especially unashamedly banging ones, the debut full-length by Greek-born Italian producer Emmanuel Beddewela is an unexpected thunderbolt. It’s not that he’s an unknown quantity, first releasing music as Emmanuel in 2008 and firing out 12-inches in customary fashion ever since, as well as enticing dudes like Shlømo, Mark Broom and Roberto onto his label, Arts. By and large, though, his singles have leaned more towards the deeper, chuggier tech-housier end of the genre. Rave Culture, as with many techno artists’ debut LPs, represents a break from routine, but is no kind of contemplative home-listening opus.

Emmanuel’s precise idea of ‘rave culture’ isn’t confirmed: 30 this year, he’s far too young to have experienced the world of M25 convoys and secret hotlines, but sometimes evokes its sound. Album opener ‘Shinobi’ fades in quietly, as John Peel used to say while I was trying to illegally record songs he played on his radio programmes, before a crackly bassline and snub-nosed kickdrum dance in harmony. The breakbeat, when it finally drops, is textbook early-90s rave/proto-jungle that tips its hat with an angularity comparable to Paul Woolford’s retroactive bangers as Special Request.

The producer is probably too young to remember the rest of techno’s 90s evolution, too, but he doesn’t let that stop him. ‘Chainreaction’ is frantic, clinical acid-tipped techno, still echoing the decade before the decade before – we’re in 94 or 95 now, I’d say, when Dave Clarke’s Red series was hot to trot and The Advent and Planetary Assault Systems were wrecking dancefloors. ‘Conductor’ is built from similarly steely kicks and assembly-line bass thud, but lent euphoric light by a synth melody straight out of the trance playbook. ‘Anthem 1’ repeats the trick, more or less: dominated by rugged percussion until nearly halfway in, whereupon twinkly, rosy-cheeked keyboards emerge in all their slightly twee Eye Q Records glory.

While this is an LP designed to bang in the clubs, every bit as much as its title suggests, the second half is more austere, almost gothic. ‘Do Something Instead Of Killing Time Because Time Is Killing You’ judiciously arranges creepy siren synth and an obnoxiously monotonous kickdrum, layering its reverb like mime makeup; the vibe of ‘Killer Floor’ mooches in the region of Sandwell District or Sigha’s Living With Ghosts album.

‘Principio Di Forza’ – that title sounds a bit fascist, eh, thought the reviewer to himself, before considering how many English-language serious face techno tracks this could also apply to – sounds like a choice set opener, springy pads and spacey Detroit synths bolstered by brisk, crisp hi-hats and chattering robotic-forest FX. It being the last of Rave Culture’s ten tracks doesn’t pan out awkwardly, however: Emmanuel closes ‘Principio Di Forza’, and the album, with a deep, textured flourish that highlights his more measured tendencies. Techno of this stripe doesn’t rely on the continued existence of the album to thrive, of course, but it’s great to sit down – or get down – with an opus that hits bullseyes pretty much front to back.

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