Release date: 06th May
Dutch duo Artefakt step away from their own new label De Stijl and onto Svreca’s celebrated deep techno outlet Semantica for a fantastic sophomore album entitled Monsoon.
This release follows their 2017 LP on Delsin which was a masterful mix of ambient, techno, electro and acid. Since then, Robin Koek and Nick Lapien have continued evolving their moody melancholic sounds on Konstrukt, Field Records, Deep Sound Channel and their new label, De Stijl. The artwork for the album is based on Nick’s photography, while the eight tracks within take you on a deep trip into an absorbing world of meditative ambient techno.
Monsoon begins with The Lost Centre, an airy, weightless ambient track. Distant vocals are heard over the sound of a dreamy soundscape, with futuristic tones drawing in and out of focus. Artefakt are prolific sound designers, knowing where to add colour and texture without overcomplicating the overall picture, which is heard here.
The Lost Centre seamlessly transitions into Monsoon. The airy swells and distant vocals remain but are joined by a slick, steppy rhythmic structure. A pronounced bassline is added to the mix to add more gravity to the track, before being joined by metallic percussion which moves the track to a much more dancefloor oriented place. As always, Artefakt balance light and darkness gracefully here.
Undulations sees Artefakt a more minimal approach to rhythmic structures, with a bouncing kick laying the foundation and scattered hi end percussion taking up headspace. Floating chord swells hang in the air to create an ambient soundscape, with a melodic conga pattern coming to the forefront. The rhythmic structure is the focus of Undulations and displays Artefakt’s capabilities of creating compelling rhythmic grooves that leave the listener wanting more.
The tempo is slowed for the broken beats of Vertigo, which draws the listeners focus to the more intricate details of the stripped back rhythms. A cold and icy sound palette is constructed here, with very subtle tones drawing in and out of focus over a pensive bassline.
Ossature moves the direction again back toward the dancefloor, with faint melodies gaining significance through repetition. A whirling rhythmic pattern with a driving kick bounce over hypnotic melodies that draw the listener in and set them in a trance. Artefakt’s sound design is impeccable, and subtlety is a very intricate part of that, and can be heard in spades on Ossature.
Inverted Forest increases the tempo even more, with thumping beats and hats driving the track forward. Glacial melodies are arranged over these hypnotic rhythms to create a compelling tapestry of sound which would suit peak hours on a dancefloor.
Celluloid Dreams features a serene, dubbed out drum pattern which feels weightless. A faint acid lead slowly comes into focus. The drums are taken out of the picture. The melody gains momentum. The drums come back in. Somber chord swells hang in the background. The journey that Artefakt have taken you on so far is winding down.
Ambience is once again established with melancholic swells of melody on Nimbus. A slower tempo is established with a bouncing kick and more calm rhythms. Miraculous tones wash over themselves to engulf the listener. An acid lead brings the record to its finale, while establishing continuity in where it has already been. Nimbus finishes in the way that Artefakt produce, subtly, gracefully and without overstating any individual element.
Monsoon is Artefakt’s sophomore record, and shows the duo’s impeccable sound design capabilities married with an intrinsic understanding of rhythmic structures. Their debut on Delsin proved that they were compelling producers, but Monsoon solidifies their stature as some of the most emotionally engaging and thought provoking techno producers within the current scene. It’s only May, but Monsoon will be topping a lot of Album Of The Year lists come December.
Monument author Lara Palmer got to speak to Artefakt back in December. You can read her interview with them here.