Deepchord Presents Echospace: Liumin
Modern Love

First things first: one thing Liumun is not is The Coldest Season Part II. Oh sure, vestigial traces of the earlier album's style remain but the Deepchord Presents Echospace follow-up from Chicago and Detroit producers Rod Modell and Steven Hitchell is a radically different animal. That doesn't surprise, given the number of projects the two have been involved in since the earlier work appeared in 2007, including developing their Echospace [Detroit] imprint and issuing multiple releases under aliases such as Intrusion and cv313. Apparently, every one of the new album's nine pieces was made with a specific location or show in mind, so the material is quite literally a reflection of the duo's travels. Specifically, they used sounds collected while visiting Japan as source material for the new record, and, as such, the first pressing of Liumin also comes with a bonus disc featuring eighty minutes of field recordings Modell made in Japan.

The Tokyo dimension figures prominently in the opener “In Echospace” when Japanese voices can be heard within the insistent surges of crackling textures that otherwise dominate. The first clear indication of the difference in the new material's approach arrives in track two, “Summer Haze,” which is altogether more uptempo and breezy than anything on The Coldest Season. Yes, multiple streams of gaseous textures are present but churning underneath is a buoyant and ever-swelling pulse whose unrelenting drive exudes the liberating spirit of house and techno. The subsequent “Sub-Marine” strips the duo's sound even further to its core so that only the barest trace of vaporous content remains. Instead the focus is on rhythm and, oh, how splendid it is to hear Modell and Hitchell dig into the tune's jacking and pounding groove with such fervor. That sets the stage for the even clubbier “BCN Dub,” where a bass-thudding thump thunders with anthemic purpose while a static-encrusted horn section chatters, and the deeply grooving “Firefly” and “Maglev,” which add a driving, warehouse-styled tech-house vibe to the album (in that regard, the fact that the album is issued on Modern Love, home to Pendle Coven, Andy Stott, MLZ, and others, feels wholly apropos). The intensity carries on into the hallucinatory “Float” until “Warm” brings the album to a beatless close with an ambient reverie of disembodied voices and muffled washes.

The duo's penchant for long tracks remains—five of the nine exceed nine-minute running times—and an occasional vapour trail still coats their music. Yet while most eighty-minute recordings feel bloated, Liumin somehow doesn't, perhaps for no more complicated reason than that when the material is of such high quality, the issue of length recedes in importance. It's also worth noting that, although Basic Channel is commonly invoked when Deepchord presents Echospace is spoken about, Liumin sounds very little like anything issued by the Basic Channel camp; furthermore, the dub-techno label sometimes applied to the Deepchord Presents Echospace sound seems even less applicable now. The new collection finds Modell and Hitchell accomplishing that rare feat: they've remained true to their previously established identity while at the same time advancing it into its next natural incarnation.

June 2010