Alan Fitzpatrick: Shadows in the Dark

Dance music ‘outsiders' tend to regard all techno artists' music as being pretty much indistinguishable, but those possessing finer sets of ears can easily hear the nuances that not only differentiate one artist's work from another's but also appreciate the sophistication and artistry that elevates a given work too. Alan Fitzpatrick's debut album Shadows in the Dark illustrates such points perfectly, as the album's dozen tracks show Fitzpatrick bringing an exceptionally refined sensitivity to the very sound of his material.

One such ear-catching example is “Mouthwash,” where chattering percussive accents and abrasive stabs of white noise repeatedly strafe a pulsating, mechano techno base. In “Kiwi” (named by Fitzpatrick for a favourite Lithuania club), he drapes a Doppler-like synth warble over the cut's thumping groove and, in “Two Times Dead,” appears to add sleigh bells, of all things, to the tune's percussion-heavy propulsion. The latter in particular is an ecstatic head-rush of elastic techno swing, as distorted vocoder effects careen wildly alongside grooving hi-hats and an overall kinetic drive. And even when a track swings with serious purpose, Fitzpatrick still manages to sneak in an arresting change-up or two, such as when a tiny hiccup repeatedly derails the steam-rolling groove in “Paranoize.” During “Blocked Up,” a jacking groove likewise gallops with fierce determination while synthetic shards splinter into skin-lacerating fragments. To his credit, he's also open to the idea of capping the album with a silky serenade (i.e., the quietly radiant “Shadows In The Dark”) instead of a blazer.

Fitzpatrick's fresh sound debuted in 2007 and since then has appeared on Bedrock, Curfew, and on his own label, 8 Sided Dice. This latest outing (issued on Adam Beyer's Drumcode imprint) is a top-of-the-line collection of quality dance music that's equally ready for the club as it is the home system. True, many of the album's tunes are roaring club bombs that rarely stray too far from the 4/4 shore, but they also elevate the form to a high plane of artistry that other producers would do well to match.

July 2010