Sixty-three minutes of deep, driving techno tracks crafted by Scottish DJ Tony Scott under the Edit Select name, Phlox is the perfect choice for those occasions when nothing but a full-on dose of hard techno will do. It's not an unrelenting parade of bangers, however, but a collection conceived as an album experience and designed as such—which, in essence, means that Scott shows himself to be as adept at creating symphonic ambient settings that are as poised and polished as his club throwdowns. He wastes no time in declaring as much by opening the album with “Blissfully Unaware,” a serene soundscape that proves Scott's able to create an ambient track with the best of'em. But just so no one gets the wrong impression, he then throws down the techno gauntlet with “Survivors of the Pulse,” seven minutes of controlled thunder that features Dino Sabatini contributing to the material. In keeping with the full-length concept, everything comes full circle at album's end via the epic ambient-drone sweep of “The Passing.”
The typical non-ambient Phlox track is a sleek, hypnotic, and well-calibrated beast that sometimes exudes a subtle sci-fi character—though it's an easy detail to miss when one's attention is so consumed by the monstrous metronomic groove Scott fashions to power the material. A good example of the style is “Distant,” which roars with such single-minded purpose and determination that one barely notices the billowing cloud slowly gathering strength and volume in the atmospheric realm above the pounding base. Even more forceful is the title track, whose pulse hits as hard as a battering ram, while one of the strongest tracks is “Asperity,” the digital-only collab with Markus Suckut that as much as any other track on the album showcases Scott's deft handling of pacing as well as tension-and-release.
It would be wrong to shortchange Scott's work by underappreciating the artistry he brings to the tracks. Strip away the thudding beat from “Circling,” for example, and you'd be left with a luscious ambient soundscape that a label like Hibernate would be proud to call its own. Listen closely and you'll also better notice the tiny details Scott works surreptitiously into a given piece—the swishing noise that alternates with the hi-hat in the title track, for instance, or the owly motif that appears alongside the hiccupping beat pattern within “Downside.” Such pieces certainly satisfy the basic requirements of techno, but they're also models of sound design and construction that reflect their creator's acute sensitivity to textural detail.