While IDM has never quite fallen out of favour in the techno scene, in recent times it seems to be more popular than it has been in a while. Seemingly, producers have begun to look past the rhythmic complexities and experimentation for its own sake that have led to some scoffing at the genre, instead creating music that evokes the beautiful melodicism that was a big part of so much of the music that led to the definition of the term in the 90s. In 2022, listeners have already enjoyed a fantastic example of the style in Kangding Ray’s Ultrachroma, and now we have to add You, the debut album from Yugen, one of the projects of Dutchman Han Frissen, boss of the Konstrukt label. Out on Semantica, a label more typically known for cerebral, yet dark strains of techno and IDM, You is a bright, refreshing take on ambient techno with new age leanings.
You’s 40-minute runtime covers a lot of musical ground, but comes back to a few staples, like the big, complex lead melodies that are present in almost every track. Laid over elaborate, glitchy percussion, the talented Yugen creates a textural contrast that adds a humanising effect instead of causing friction in the music. Toraberu is an early highlight of this and the album’s highlight, while Oblivion shows how the sound still works with a more plaintive and nervous approach. An inverse of the idea is also seen in some points, where the rhythm section has a more organic, groovy tone and the melodies become more mechanical, like on Seclusio”, which has a trip-hop energy with a funk bassline and breakbeats, but uses shards of bleeps and warbles to fill out the main melody alongside billowing pads.
As mentioned above, new age is a touchpoint throughout the album, but this doesn’t mean this is a clichéd bit of background music for a massage parlour. Instead, the ideas of new age music are present in how the album synthesises organic and electronic ideas as well as the focus on slow progression on a journey over the duration of a track. Resfaber, the intro to the album, even nods towards the “fourth world” concept with its syncopated hand drums and flute melodies. Although definitely not a dancefloor album, techno still serves to root the release, culminating with Inves, which starts off as straight-forward, subaquatic techno, taking half its runtime before an angelic harp melody brings the track more in line with the rest of the album, letting the listener go on a high note.
You is out now on cassette and in digital format from Semantica Records’s Bandcamp.