Release: Stream State
Label: Counterchange Recordings
Release Date: February 22 2019
Often when listening to a release that consists of a compilation of tracks along with a companion mix, one or the other can feel perfunctory. The mix can end up being a way to increase the playtime of the release or the individual parts of the mix may not be worth listening to by themselves from poor curation. Inland’s Stream State is definitely not one of those releases. Conceived as a “celebration of the DJ mix / compilation format”, the contents of this quadruple LP are a deep dive into the deeper side of contemporary techno with an unexpectedly strong melodic sensibility on display.
The 22 tracks on display here are mostly mid-paced techno bookended by two exceptions. The mix begins with Fred Mann’s “Nacre”, an intriguing blend of On-era Aphex Twin and nostalgic melodies reminiscent of Villalobos’ Dexter. An hour and 20 minutes of techno later, Johanna Knutsson’s Synthsakral sends the listener off with a synth piece straight from the darker side of the Radiophonic Workshop. Although Stream State does not diverge much from a formula, the quality of both the raw material on offer as well as Inland’s dynamic mixing style keeps the release interesting throughout its runtime.
Starting off, the mix has a droney, deep sound which utilizes some of the more straight-forward tools of the mix, like BNJMN’s Bayou and Inland’s collaboration with Boddika, Don’t Dream, one of the two tracks by Inland included on the release. The standout track of this act of the mix has to be Drumtaktics by Jamaica Suk, a tense roller with driving drums recalling the clanging steel sheets of Test Dept. The bouncy Humble Bragging by Tripeo with its UK bass-tinged hats and synths lifts the mood, signifying a transition towards a more dynamic and melodic sound.
Inland shows off how to curate techno that is able to hit the dancefloor hard yet keep the listener’s ear interested through rhythmic twists and snippets of melody, which is most visible in the middle section of the mix. From DJ Skull’s Good Pain with its Latin melodies and rugged claps to the hyperspeed dub techno of Perm’s Busak, almost every track moves the mix to a new direction without losing sight of the whole. Efdemin’s Sequence 100, a track that may have the lushest, most ornate melody of any techno track of 2020 is able to fit into the mix flawlessly, a feat that really shows the mastery of Inland as a DJ.
The last stretch of the mix displays a darker, peak-time techno aesthetic, starting with Peter van Hoesen’s Twin Motive’s croaking, swirling synths and Patrik Skoog’s Millsian workout of Echophenomena. The tracks get played out for longer at this point, allowing for the music to breathe more and the dancers less as we pass the hour mark. Slowly, the intensity ramps up until the music drops out almost completely in preparation for relative newcomer Sophia Saze’s Same Sane, a flurry of white noise hi-hats and menacing bleeps that already feels like one of the strongest techno records of 2020. The follow-on, Distant Echoes’s Todo Muere is made redundant by Same Sane’s sheer intensity which is one of the only points of negative criticism to be made for this mix.
“We have to create a culture around technology that is so beautiful, so meaningful, so deep, so endlessly creative, so filled with infinite potential that it draws us away from mass suicide.” This brief spoken word and its techno-utopian message brings Stream State to a full circle at its closing, linking back to the message of celebration at the core of what Inland has tried to accomplish. Sonically, this ethos can be also seen throughout as we flow between hard and melodic sounds just like the colors flow back and forth on the Moebius-esque album art. Stream State is one of the finest mixes of the year and an excellent example of how you don’t always need to push boundaries of a genre to create something very memorable. Highly recommended.