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“DD Review: Ellen Allien – Alientronic.”

Score: 8.5/10

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The most powerful woman in techno you’ve never heard of, Ellen Allien, owning to an astonishing 11 studio albums and two record labels to her name (BPitch and UFO Inc.), chimes in here with another focused, eclectic array of complex but captivating IDM music. The songs are sonically interesting and otherworldly but also focused and disciplined, built around authoritative riffs and themes that seemingly could play all night and please the crowd.

Despite the fact that this is techno music that could easily be ubiquitous, playing either at parties or at Berlin dance clubs (Allien apparently hails from Germany), at the same time, each of these tracks has its own distinct mood, and way of going about its business. The two lead cuts, “Empathy” and “MDMA,” are bouncy and full of energy, with “Bowie in Harmony” then tenser and more full of a dark focus, like the work of a musical mind whose been honing her craft for close to decades, which Allien indeed has. “Love Distortion” then is astoundingly stiff and obstinate, seven and a half minutes which finally balloon out into something that FEATURES a snare at the three and a half minute mark, an “alien” song form that’s unnervingly extra terrestrial and hard to know, all the while built upon a riff so hypnotic you hardly notice it.

In terms of final production, this album is grafted flawlessly, with five to 10 second breaks after every session of music to let the project breathe. Also, like Black Milk’s equally brilliant Tronic (which apparently isn’t an actual word but rather just a suffix), this work is inherently PERCUSSIVE to a dominant, formative extent, with “Electronic Joy” carrying almost no melody, resting on this incessant kick/hat cadence, unfurling just singular, droning notes at a time. “Electronic Joy” started to remind me a little bit of The Field the way it stretches out into a seemingly endless stature with the same, robotic groove governing things the whole way. Ironically, it’s ability to even take this to a further extreme, with full dance club confidence and chutzpah, that allows it to one-up The Field and create a true mental landscape in the listener which may go on to inform an entire culture, indeed.

 

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