Darren Nye - A Clear Vision of A Distance Future (Childhood Intelligence, 2020)
Tender glimpses and emotional happenings combine on this powerful statement from one of techno's most evocative and spell binding producers.
Techno was very much born in the ideals of musical escapism, and for many of the current crop of producers, this value is very much being kept alive. The dreams and aspirations that resonated from those early releases, where the smoke filled streets of Detroit fuelled the imaginations of producers who felt compelled and inspired by what flowed and moved around them. It was this combination of personal situation along with contextual borrowings that made the initial set of releases so intriguing and atmospheric, where the meaning behind the tunes shone through so brightly, capturing the hearts and minds of a generation, and eventually the world. The groove of hypnotic drumming patterns would ease you away into a pulsating scene, where machines and process began to move your mind and your body, whilst on top all manner of deep and broad chordal tones would begin a series of emotional reactions, with the combination so intoxicating, bewildering and above all else, fascinating. Techno made in this similar vein has always remained this way, the manner in which it was conceived all the way through to those inspired by it now, with an investment in the way rhythms dip and dive and melodic touches always reach for the stars in the most evocative way possible. Its a musical relationship that has bound people to the genre and the city it was created in, with the two serving as bountiful sources and inspirational references, and now more than ever people have begun to return to this era of techno as a means to fuel their own musical narratives. The passion and the fire that burns within the classic stylings of techno still resides enormously, and those who are informed by its values often come up with very exciting music. The open ended ness to the scope and scale of the genre is so very vast, with space for all manner of varying producers to try their hand at expanding the world just a little bit more. We see the heart and soul of the origins shine bright through fresh interpretations, where we reconnect with the music over and over again, through these new and invigorating representations of the sound we all fell in love with.
Darren Nye is certainly one of those producers who applies deep and soulful touches to techno, with the music demonstrating a kind of emotional awareness that runs only through the most compelling of dance music. Nye has been making music since the mid 90s, with his style very much informed by the core features of early 90s techno, which had taken on new forms since the genre's birth in Detroit a decade or so earlier. Nye's tracks weave and dip around the mantras of these sounds, where melodic progression remains a constant within ever evolving beat structures and moody deep landscapes. As with so many of the great techno producers, Nye touches on so many different tones and textures within his music, with an ever lasting desire to connect with listeners meaning that each release explores how machines and a human touch can make some proper serious music. Its a relationship that ensures we always come back for more, our attraction to the music contained within defined by its mystique and its beautifully composed nature. Nye remains very much a master of his craft, his vision for what music can be infused within his various releases, all of which reach for the stars and join the dots between various scenes and producers that have shone brightly throughout the years. Be it soulful IDM techno, through to harder progressive tunes, or homages to the Detroit scene, Nye certainly has you covered on all bases, with something for anyone with a interest in all things techno. Nye has released some superb records over the years, with some of our personal highlights including the 'Caldwell 39 EP' from 2018; the superb 'Emotional Intelligence' record from 2018; and the deep introspective 'Freedom of Thought', which dropped last year. As Elusive Man, a beautiful record to check out is 'A New Day', which came out earlier this year, and the 'Spacetime' LP from 2018; and finally, as Plankton Warrior a couple of our favourites include 'Hostile Encounter' from 2018, and 'Life Journey' from 2019. All of his records can be found on the SpaceTime bandcamp page, so seriously do consider checking them all out. Nye has certainly found a place in time and space within his music, where the warmth radiates through via a framework of compelling cosmic textures and feels, the sense that our minds can be allowed to wonder through a starry eyed expanse. We feel a real connection to all that exists within the music, the notions that resonate so much from it all something that remains tangible and alive, music with a beating heart and character to match. If this sounds like being up your street, then we highly recommend checking out his immense and sonically never ending back catalogue, its a trip that you will not regret.
So now we turn our attentions to the subject of todays review, Nye's debut LP under his own name, 'A Clear Vision Of A Distant Future', which comes out on the always excellence Childhood Intelligence imprint. Here we see Nye in truly impressive form, with his signature sound stretching itself out over a series of cuts that map out a journey through the many gateways of time and the cosmos. With one foot on the ground and our minds in the stars, its a record that immediately impresses with its tonal escapism and its constant evolution through beat and melodic presence. Put it simply, its one of the finest electronic cuts of the year, and its about time we take a dip already!
Up first comes 'Intro (Live 1997)', and we begin with the chordal stabs that gracefully glide into view. Just from their loose feel and structure, you already get that immediate connection, with the sparkling of keys on top adding that weaving narrative between the chords. The sheer beauty of it all, its incredible how someone can nurture and blend such an evocative feel from just two elements, but herein lies the technique that Nye always gives across to us in his music. An emphasis on the emotive qualities of tracks will always shine through, and this track immediately sets the tone of the record that lies ahead of us. 'External Memories' comes next, and we dive into a more full song structure, with the choppy fast paced beats creating a series of boundaries for which the melodies can respond and flux. The driving bass underpins it all, as snares and drums abound with energy, with the swelling chords floating up high, with little chimey key lines moving in and around of the structures. The manner in which the track continually goes through the motions, its flow and progression defined by its beautiful self containment that always hints at how we can allow our minds to wonder within it. The song structure is so easy to get lost within, its layered nature a true marvel, compelling us to reside within it and enjoy its many wonders. Up next comes 'Subject Denied', and we begin with the expressive drums starting us off. The eerie dark electro sounding chords start to flood through the top ends of the track, as the acidic tinged line grooves through the centre of proceedings. The track has this soft intensity to it, with the flows moving from more full on emotive excursion then swinging into less dense moments that really emphasis the majesty of every single element. Around the 2 minute mark, the energy drops slightly, before the track swings back in with so might and power, the bass really moving up a notch as it is allowed to flow on with grace and momentum. 'Melancholy Flower (Beatrooted mix)' is up next, and we begin in similar territories to the previous track. Slick slowly evolving drums set the scene, before the melodic masterclass begins once more, as the chordal work is overlaid with driving key progressions that knit it all together. The bass shines through from the deep, its singular nature providing a interesting contrast to the free flowing nature of the keys on top. The chords have this wonderful layered intensity, what grows and expands with a sense of purpose and rhythm. Its the expressionism of it all that remains so intoxicating, with our heads just bobbing along the rich interwoven melodies and purposeful atmospheres. You can really get lost within this one.
'Doublethink' arrives next, and the chords once more introduce us into this new representation of the sound. Their swelling nature creates an impressive wall of sound, one that occupies the mid range of the track very well indeed, as the rest of the ingredients begin to grow in intensity around this impressive melodic display. The beats start to respond to the little intricacies that become apparent as the music grooves and flows, as the music recedes and fluxes in space and time with ease and momentum. 'Time Waits For No One' follows next, and the cosmic ness takes the lead on this cut. The space age sounds gently move around in front of us, our desire to reach out and touch this gently moving series of keys so great, as we close our eyes and transport ourselves to a world filled with unimaginable colour and vibrancy. The chuggy slowed down nature of things starts to unravel subscapes and landscapes filled to the brim with ecstasy and meaning, where lapping waves hit our feet as the sunset transports us to far away lands and places we may or may not have visited before. Truly extraordinary. 'To Be Heard' follows next, and we enter true deep into the night kind of vibes on this one. A proper old school beat pins together a stomping bass line that permeates through the structures, whilst on top we have all the wonderful chordal work that we associate with the classic Chicago house sound. The richness flows from the very top right through to the bassy depths on this one, with the groove never slowing or taking rest for a minute, but around the 2 minute mark we see a proper switch up. The chords drop out, and are replaced by a sweet as hell acid line that chugs right through the heart of proceedings, as the drums take on a proper reverbed feel, which just adds bags of character to the track. It all comes full circle soon after, and we move back into the emotive feels. 'Knowledge Among ' slides into our view, and oh yes are we ready for more of the same. The lush chordal work fills the screen, gracefully moving in its progression of warmth and fullness, its vibrancy permeating from all sides. As the chords move forward, the bass lines tingle underneath, the drums begin their playful descent, and little key lines shine above it all, crafting yet another gorgeous track that sings so loudly and resonates so brightly. The movement into the acid line leads to more contrasts and transitions that carry the song even further into the realms of blissed out possibilities, the realms of the unknown and the known merging into one. 'Cognitive Dissonance' comes next, and the drumming patterns lead us into a fairly furious electro beat. This is quickly joined by the deep set chordal progression, that begins underneath the beats before rising above, its delicate measured approach doing so much to wrap itself around us. This then leads into the bass line, that smashes into view so epically and with such reason and grace, the blended nature of the two tones paired perfectly together. 'Slipstream' comes next, and its the hypnotic feel that really takes us away on this one. The series of arpeggio keys and sequences all work around a spacious beat structure that allows for maximum impacts to occur, with the chordal stabs and pulse like bass lines operating so expertly within this emotive structure. Finally, to wrap things up on this superb slice of wax, we have 'Protodroid (Recorded 1997)', which transports us one final time to the realms of cosmic possibility. The range of tones, the spacious key lines, the deep set quick fire chordal lines, the slowed down chuggy drumming patterns, it all amounts and aligns itself so impeccably, with all the grace you could ever wish for from a IDM infused techno track. The machines that guide us incorporate the emotional side of things, where our connections to the track become that bit stronger due to how it all makes us feel. Its beauty is vast, the possibilities never ending.
Nye really demonstrates what he is all about on this record, and for a good hour or so we are completely engrossed in everything that is going on. Each cut displays a different side to the power of emotional exploration, where melodies are free flowing and point to places we feel comfortable in yet a sense of the unexpected always remains. Nye's music helps us to believe and dream, the visual narrative that plays out from the expansive music allows us all the time to immerse ourselves. We transport ourselves away from here, the music constantly feeding into our desires for escapism, on this absolute masterclass. If you wanna dream or escape, for a little bit, stick this gem on. You will not regret it.
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