Heavy techno does not always have to be po-faced, monochrome and edgy – a light-hearted touch or tongue-in-cheek attitude can help make a release more approachable without necessarily falling into the realm of kitsch. The demand for music ticking these boxes can be seen with the current resurgence of trance-adjacent sounds on European dance floors as people crave music that’s intense without being punishing, a cathartic respite from the woes of everyday life. The debut EP from Corsican producer Petru, Kolibri Space Station, falls into this vein, containing a number of deftly produced techno cuts with a mischievous energy.
Split into two halves, each showing a different side of Petru’s skillset, the EP shows that taking your time before releasing one’s productions can pay off, as there’s a maturity to the synthesis of influences on display here. Side A focuses on the “dark, strong and hypnotic”, starting with the spacey Begin Transmission, whose deep low-end and discordant bleeps bring to mind Terrence Dixon or 90s Jeff Mills, yet with a bouncing groove that is unexpectedly fun, leaving a more multifaceted impression than the typical track with these Detroit touchstones. Chihirotraktor begins with a martial, EBM-inspired rhythm which morphs completely over the duration of the track, organically progressing between different rhythmic ideas driven by stop-start percussion. The digital version also includes an Acid Mix of the track, which adds appropriately frenzied acid warbles, but is overall unnecessary.
On side B, the mood is more emotional and melodic, starting with Ketarion, the strongest track on the EP. Its start calls back to the opener of the EP, but there is a bigger focus on the groove and the prominent melodies. Only shortly after starting, the track drops off to allow the synths to build to a crescendo around an initially subdued bassline, which then kicks into full gear and brings a trance sheen to the track in the vein of Copenhagen fast techno. A short acid freakout later and the track ends all too soon, calling the listener to hit the rewind button. The uplifting energy continues with an interesting “cover” of Ame’s legendary Rej, which transposes the melodies of the classic to a techno context with surprisingly successful results. A short, floaty synth outro closes out the EP leaving one curious to hear more from Petru in the future.
Kolibri Space Station is out now in vinyl and digital formats on the eponymous Bandcamp.