by Luis Rozalén / Hd Substance
Long story short, some fundamental records in Oscar Mulero’s discography
When we talk about techno music, the figure of Oscar Mulero appears as a mandatory reference. In addition to his long experience as a DJ and selector exceeding 30 years of professional practice, he has his side as a music producer that began in 1999 and goes on until today.
Much has happened since the early years and his continuous work in the studio has been shaping his discographic output, until reaching the sweet spot where he is now, producing projects for other bands and styles away from his main focus that was and still is techno.
From among his extensive discography, I’ve selected some of his milestone works from the end of the nineties until today. In no particular order.
Quite Unusual_Untitled_Brainwaves (1999)
Almost a decade after his professional dj debut, Oscar decides to go deep into production. Some training is needed and he trusts in the experience of a veteran in those duties: Groof.
Both collide in the studio and soon the pupil / teacher relation becomes a real collaboration and months later they have a bunch of tracks ready to be released. The name of the creature: Quite Unusual, taken from the title of one of Front 242 anthems from the album Official version.
Soundwise, the EP is raw and direct. Those were the days when no computer was involved in music production, just hardware and no internet to learn how to work it out properly. The record is now a collectors item, a few copies were made and some of them appear on discogs.com from time to time. Oscar’s name does not appear in the label copy, so maybe some of the lucky owners don’t already know that it is his first work. No youtube videos available to check.
DOUBLE SIDED HOSPITAL_MEDICAL MESH_Warm Up recordings (1999)
Shortly after starting production, Oscar steps up for the creation of his own Warm Up label, among the first releases in the catalog, this is one of my personal favorites, so it’s on this list for totally subjective reasons, maybe it is not one of his favourites if you ask him, but you already know that many times the public chooses tracks that one never expects, and this is the case.
An EP that according to the label info is dedicated to his family, so I suppose it has an emotional component associated with it. Musically is again a raw techno exercise, along four cuts he translates the spirit of the music he is supporting on his sets at the moment, minimal tooly elements, loopy structures and primitive sampledelia. Summer is a good example of the vibe:
Anaconda_Theory records (2002)
It was a matter of time, soon after his first diving into production his sound caught the attention of labels outside Spain, one of the first releases abroad was the Split EP with Ben Sims: Anaconda. His sound goes one step forward in this one, going from the raw and basic spirit of the previous releases to a more detailed and punchy approach. You can feel that now he is confident with his tools and feels more comfortable in his creative environment. His Floodland Studio,named that way after being flooded by accident, located on a basement in the center of Madrid grows in equipment and you can clearly feel it in the sound of the title track:
Trolley Route_Exercise Two_ Om Digital (2009)
Some said that techno is about futurism and to move forward, so I don’t want to focus this article on the seminal releases of this prolific artist, therefore I make a jump in time and go to 2009.
Vinyl releases are facing a crisis, digital is the new trend and Oscar is aware of it. Under his alias Trolley Route, he releases his second album after the 2003 debut of this alias. A ochi chiusi in Mark Broom’s Pure Plastic label.
When using the Trolley Route moniker he dives deep into more elaborate sounds, heavily based on Detroit roots and IDM influences from the first Warp Records acts like B12 o Autechre. Nothing Wrong is a good example of this: broken rhythms, lush pads, shuffled basslines, harmonies and melodies … a complex and beautiful soundscape far away from the pulses of muscular techno he is well known for.
Fasenuova_Aullidos Metálicos (2016)
Another long jump in time to talk about one of his works for others, as a producer understood in the classical sense. Although he is immediately identified with the most combative techno, those of us who are good friends of him know his preference for risky, dark, industrial sounds … he is already a collector and follower of many 80’s acts. That is in his DNA and his background and I’m sure it has been useful when attacking this work.
Fasenuova is one of the most veteran industrial music projects in Spain, emotional vocals, mechanical sounds and aesthetics that Oscar brings to another level in his brand new studio in Gijón. He is already working in the forthcoming work of this duo that will be out in the coming months.
Carretera Fluorescente is a good example of this new role as a producer in the strict sense of the word:
Another work for others, this time exploring the deepest and more texturized aspect of sound. Territoire’s music is an experimental work, almost beatless, but is precisely on the beats where Oscar’s touch is perceived most, from broken sharp drum machine patterns to distorted and solid beats.
He is also responsible for the mixing side of this complex work and the benefits of this deep cooperation between the creator and the producer can be perceived. The result it’s absolutely stunning and you can get the picture listening to the whole album in this link:
Oscar Mulero_Muscle & Mind (2015)
Now we go backwards to 2015 to focus on one of my favourite full length albums from Oscar. Muscle and mind is in my humble opinion one of his best works to date under his own name. The balance between dancefloor tracks and emotional tunes is perfect and suits exactly my taste on many levels. I’ve listened and played it countless times and I’m still perceiving details unveiled on previous listens. The track giving name to the album is a good example of the deep side of this recording:
And Mentally induced action is the definition of how intelligent dance floor techno should sound like:
Oscar Mulero_Paradisaea_Hospital Productions (2019)
This limited edition square 7 ¨ flexi disc is one of Oscar’s discography most collectable items, it was released on New York’s cult label Hospital Productions and reflects another side of his sound palette.
Two tracks of freestyle electronic music, again showcasing his love for duality, with an experimental cut called Leence, sibilant and floaty but with a complex broken beat lying behind:
And on the flip side Adavre, floaty, rhythmic and deep, exploring new sound landscapes previously unveiled:
Oscar Mulero_Perfect Peace_Semántica (2018)
When he is working outside his home labels, Pole Group and Warm up, one of his preferences is the also spanish cult label Semantica records. He chose this label for the release of his last album to date, Perfect Peace, another of my own favourites in his musical output.
He gives his most intimate side in this work, combining textures and abstract grooves, away from his natural habitat as a dj in dancefloors worldwide, reaching the soul of the listener in many ways, showcasing his deep experience as sound mangler and designer.
Here you can go deep into Oscar’s mind via sound:
Oscar Mulero_Electric Shades / Token 2X12” (2018)
Electric Shades is another of my picks for this article, Token Records is one of the staples in modern techno. As we said somewhere in the beginning of this compilation, techno is about moving forward and futurism, and this extended double EP or album is one perfect example of how modern techno should sound like, muscular and mental, hypnotic, galactic, scfi, you name it.
The prequel of an upcoming work for this very label that will see the light soon. https://oscarmulero-oficial.bandcamp.com/album/titan
An example of a vast experience on the decks and in the studio condensed in 12 slices.
Chasing Shadows is a good pick to get the picture:
Oscar Mulero_Gradual bending EP_Warm Up_(2020)
Gradual Bending EP was released in the middle of this pandemic we are still suffering from, its a limited edition vinyl record comprising three cuts of energetic and direct techno, fast and tooly. You can clearly feel that he is swimming in his natural environment, music from the future released nowadays. Finally it looks like time is coming to hear it on a proper soundsystem.
You can get the picture by listening to the last cut Natural resources here:
Oscar Mulero_The Beauty of Leaving a Legacy_Semantica_(2019)
Released in 2019, this extended EP or mini album offers a different approach from his previous works for Semantica. In this release he focuses on the dancefloor but still keeping the meditative feeling in the components aside from the groove. Music for the dancefloor but with a mental and liquid approach.
The track naming the release is a nice sum of the feeling here:
Oscar Mulero_Spatial Sequence Synestesia_Mord (2016)
At first glance you get automatically captivated by the stunning artwork, on the inside, five cuts of advanced dancefloor weaponry, using broken rhythms, acid bites, some distortion and bleepy martian sequences. Sci Fi techno at its best, released on one of the reference labels out there: Mord Records.
Again I choose the track naming the record to illustrate the feeling sonically:
Oscar Mulero_Tormenta_Pole Group (2021)
One of his freshest works to date has been Tormenta EP, merciless futuristic weapons released in January 2021 in his very own Pole Group imprint. Three hypnotic mixing tools, fast paced tempo wise, exploring the harsh side of techno, where distortion meets abstraction on behalf of the most intelligent dancefloors. Espectro Rojo is my pick here, as a tool for my sets and because of the amazing video that you can watch here:
Oscar Mulero_Black Propaganda_Warm Up Recordings (2012)
This long player means the best of the dancefloor material in Oscar’s discography. Along nine tracks he showcases the experience acquired as a dj, connecting directly with the listener with precise and intelligently danceable tools. This record was the inflexion point in his career, bringing him to the well respected worldwide dimension he is now enjoying.
As a sample, the track is named Introducing Errors, a rugged and grey piece to dance in obscure warehouses wherever they might be.
Oscar Mulero_Horses EP_Pole Group (2011)
Sometimes a single Ep can explain more than a full album and this is the case with Horses, three slices of broken rhythms, granular textures, asymmetrical sequences and bleeps. A perfect example of his signature dance floor oriented sound and the basement for an often imitated never equalled style.
Feel the groove with the main title Horses:
Oscar Mulero/ Umwelt_ Rave or Die (2021)
Last but not least we close this compendium of my personal selection of Oscar’s extensive body of work with one of his latest releases to date. Another collectors item in the form of a picture disc shared with french veteran electro master Umwelt.
The harshest side of his sound is shown here, combining adrenalinic broken beats with acid sequences and profound atmospheres, a strange hybrid that means one step beyond in his career that you can feel on the link below with Taste the Rope:
Oscar Mulero_Titan_Token Records 2021
A last minute update in this extensive list is the upcoming EP for Token records. The muscular side of Oscar shows up here in full action with four slices of pulsating and merciless weapons. Martian synths, pumping drums, hypnotizing arrangements and again an astonishing artwork that defines perfectly the music inside this workout. There’s a music video of Carnage to illustrate the mood here:
This is just a biased selection based in my own taste, as an old friend and a fan I cannot be neutral in this subject, I’ve been there during his musical travel from the beginning, for me it’s a real pleasure to write this lines so you all can have a nice perspective on the importance of Oscar Mulero’s figure for techno music on a planetary level. Hope you like this selection and become a fan as I am.