Artist: Bryan Chapman

Release: 7 Shadows and Iron Lungs

Label: Monotony

Release Date: September 24th

Bryan Chapman, a producer from southern England, has been busy this year. ‘7 Shadows and Iron Lungs’ is the debut LP on Chapman’s own label, Monotony. This seems only right for a producer who has released four EPs in the past year, and, in the past has released work on techno mainstays labels’ such as Alan Fitzpatrick’s 8 Sided Dice, Butch’s Bouq and Cari Lekebusch’s H-Productions. Being supported by some of the biggest names in techno; Luke Slater, Laurent Garnier & Slam, to name a few, had led Chapman to create his own label, which he aims “to make psychedelic and monotonous techno”. With ‘7 Shadows’ in mind, monotony is referring to a very stripped down and intricate style of production, where bare elements weave in and out of one another with every sonic wave being carefully blended into the mix.

Primal’ opens the record with somber chords and an eerie horn. Chapman has placed a slow paced bouncing kick drum under metallic panned percussion over a dark backdrop to establish the spectral sounds he’s planning on showing us. Chapman uses negative spacing well to set the tone for the record. An unsettling horn brings the track to a close like a foreboding siren for what’s to come.  ‘Cylon’ is the first psychedelic track of the record; a slow paced thud of a kick drum and bass is met with a trippy melody. A polished yet gritty synth. Chapman slowly builds the tension  gracefully up to a peak which then naturally retracts down to its origin. Chapman’s objective seems to be to pull you into a trance with his syncopated rhythms and psychedelic melodies, only to snap you out of it with harsh sounding tones and increased tension. 

Subconsciousness Breaking Out Of Your Face’ shows Chapman’s natural ability to set tone, with shadowy gradual building swells weaving in and out over a bouncing kick. High end percussion plays over a resonant acid melody lay a foundation which then is removed by Chapman in order to add pressure , which he then builds upon by layering resonant melodies on. The looping rhythms and melodies  repeat until the track then comes to stop. While this track is designed well, Chapman’s spacing makes the second half of the track drag, which detracts from the fluidity that had been established from the previous tracks.  ‘Carcosa’ sees Chapman go down the electro route, with a bouncing kick drum snare combo and scattered hi hats. Saw waves cuts through the mix like a distorted electric guitars strings being  pulled over and over. This is quite an unsettling sound, however Chapman has mixed the track masterfully and it blends into the sonic tapestry eloquently. ‘Sand’ marks the interlude of the record, under two minutes with an unsettling huge distorted sound that gradually diminishes.  

Black’ is the centrepiece of the record, from the perspective of the listener. This behemoth of a track, which clocks in at just under 15 minutes, is the exact style of music that one would expect from Chapman. Featuring innovate sound design and well constructed rhythmic structures , it leaves one wondering why he would venture into other sound realms. It begins with fluttering synth notes and reverberating acid resonant chords. A slow pumping kick drum cements the sounds in place. Peripheral synth sounds become more dominant as the song progresses. Unblemished percussion lets the synth lock into place and allows it to breath. This repetition creates a trance like groove which is then interrupted by a jagged sounding synth which weaves in and out, cutting through the otherwise very smooth sound pallet. Around half way through the track a somber bass tone and chord are added to the mix. Systematically Chapman weaves in and out of these elements. ‘Black’ is a slow burner that doesn’t ever try to reach a peak but rather slink up and down. Chapman’s intention of making psychedelic, futuristic techno has been successfully attained at this point.

7’ has some well designed futuristic sounds playing in the distance over some very low swelling chords. The very long quiet intro is in a way the beginning of the second half of the record, as it allows the listener to clear their mind of what they have just heard. Chapman adds in a sub bass and accompanying well fitting metallic percussion. Pronounced tribal drums and deep chords see the track build and then detract. The tempo has been increased here, and it appears to be heading to techno territory from this leg of the record onward. ‘I Don’t Know What My Mother’s Feet Look Like’ is a straight forward , percussion focused DJ-tool with a thudding kick drum and futuristic melodies. Dark plucking chords play over a melancholy undercurrent on this track which was made to be played on a sound system at peak hours. ‘Cut The Kids In Half’ is a late night techno stepper, with an acid melody repeating over a thudding kick with a simple light hi hat. A dark chord stab repeats with an eerie melody floating above. Chapman creates trance-like, dreamy techno here that would fit well with the likes of Rødhåd or Etapp KyleEmbers’ is the finale in terms of music with a steady beat; with a very well crafted slow build towards an eruption. Triumphant  melodies blend together with rising percussion to build to a huge climax which makes you feel like it’s not going to come, as the artist withholds the point from you before releasing a grand finale of distorted melodies playing over a pumping kick. ‘Dead shadows’ finishes the album with a creepy drawn out melody which then is added to , sounding like it’s a creature releasing its last breath. 

While the most unsettling points of ‘7 Shadows’ may be too intense for some to handle, Bryan Chapman has created a futuristic, hypnotic record which speaks wonders of his impeccable sound design ability. This record holds many tunes that would work in a set, suited to those who gravitate toward a darker aesthetic with an appreciation for the juxtaposition of polish and grit. Tracks like ‘Black’ might be appreciated more as a stand alone listen than on the record, but that is due to the sheer vastness in length. The second leg of the record sees Chapman explore more dance floor friendly beats; with ‘Cut The Kids In Half’ taking the runner up medal for best track on the record, shortly followed by ‘I Don’t Know What My Mother’s Feet Look Like’. While ‘Black’ is cleverly used not only as a musical number, but also as a dividing line between two different styles, one might wonder if the two halves of the record on either side would have formed more of an identity had they been released individually rather than as a whole.
Regardless, Chapman has made a brilliant-sounding debut for his own label which, albeit long at points, will no doubt generate a lot more interest, which will help facilitate Chapman to grow Monotony into a new name in the world of psychedelic techno.

You can listen the whole album on Bryan Chapman’s SoundCloud.