Fiedel is a man of many faces, known for both his legendary sets in Berghain and his techno productions both as a solo artist and as part of MMM with Errorsmith. In 2013, he started the label Fiedeltwo to showcase dance floor-oriented releases from close collaborators. The latest release on the label is an excellent addition to the 4×4 Series from Dutch producer Juan Sanchez.

The four tracks on the EP are all clearly designed for the dancefloors that we will hopefully be able to visit again soon. While staying around the 135 BPM mark, the music is by no means monotone, thumping business techno. A house-influenced sensuality pervades the release, while at times melodic leads lift the listener into euphoric states not commonly seen in techno of this sort. Throughout the EP, what always stands out is Juan’s mastery of how to structure a track, with elements being introduced and subtracted at just the perfect times to keep the listener’s interest.

The EP opens with De Neel in Me, which is a straight-forward stomper focused around a disorienting synth that slowly modulates over the course of the track. What could result in something overly simplistic is elevated by driving hi-hats that are constantly varying in their pattern, showing how important percussive variations are in creating the mood in techno. Dor builds slowly, with a simple yet relentless two-note bass line that develops into a smooth groove culminating in a must-hear drop that will cause havoc on a dancefloor. A counter-balance to the intensity is created with the addition of dreamy pads that could be off a Dial record.

Double Standards is the only tune from the release that isn’t quite up to the standards of the others. Although it’s built on an interesting rhythm that’s closer to jacking house than techno, it is a little one-note, with only a croaking acid line and some bleeping synths to add variation.The track also suffers from an overly long breakdown in the mid-section that breaks the flow.  This is more than made up for by the final track, Valu Aukuso, which is the unquestionable highlight of the EP. Starting with a dark, yet groovy bassline, acid squelches and a paranoid synthline are slowly added over three minutes. Once the hi-hats kick in, you expect a powerful drop, but instead Juan cleverly strips the track back down to the bare essentials to keep the listener on the edge. As a slow crescendo builds, the swirling synth in the background starts coming to a halt just before everything comes back together as an absolute peak-time bomb.

Juan Sanchez has put together an extremely strong techno EP, with Dor and Valu Aukuso especially being two of the finest techno tracks of 2021. 4×4 Series Pt. 3 is available now on vinyl & digital from Hardwax.