Tunnel is no newcomer to the scene. The Webuildmachines label boss has been a consumer and provider of music for over a decade. In a recent interview with 312 Audio, Tunnel explains that his influences for Emergence range from Drum and Bass to Ambient. It becomes clear from the onset that he uses this diversity to great effect.
First in line, Eye Machine feels like the dramatic soundtrack to a bionic eye replacement surgery in the year 3020. Haunting ambient spaces are punctuated by rising and falling screeches, groans and spacey melodies. A flickering, suppressed low-end pulses along in the background, rearing its head just enough, but never too much. And as you get off the operating table, there is one final buzz — as your new eye comes on.
Conformity does not fit into any simple mold. The track begins ready for action, signaling intent with a chest-hugging bassline. However, it soon becomes a pleasant myriad of sounds: neck-testing percussion, harmonic bleeps, machine hums and drifting melodies. Tunnel gracefully shifts focus between these elements so they seem to blend into one despite their varying individuality. Perhaps his intent from the start was to create an oxymoron. If so, it worked.
Midway through the album, Tunnel pushes deeper mergers of light and dark. The Light had me at the first decibel. This track manages to pit two polar opposites against each other. Melodic chimes produce a radiant, uplifting feel, while dark, grainy textures and a recurrent machine howl throw in teasers of cynicism. This is Tunnel at his finest, paying homage to the Webuildmachines label ethos: expanding the definition of techno music and modern ritual.
Closer to the album’s end, things get more adventurous. Outside Looking In is propelled by a kick pattern that may seem playful to some but is indisputably powerful to all. The track slithers and winds with artifice, tricking you time and again into thinking it can’t come back harder; until it does. This is one to beware of, be it in bucolic caves or urban warehouse enclaves.
Tunnel has achieved an enviable sense of self with this album. It is a long-overdue foray into honest, experimental techno that he and his label seem destined to keep contributing their perspectives to.
Catch Tunnel live