Maelstrom – Alph4

4 out of 5

Label: Central Processing Unit

Produced by: Joan-Mael Péneau

Though Maelstrom’s Alph4’s A-side of icy, minimalist techno isn’t necessarily a brand new spin on the genre, it’s nonetheless tantalizingly unique: withholding a low-end beat in favor of sharp, fluttery clicks and bleeps; playfully glitchy, but intensely rhythmic and ominous; relatively simple in terms of range but somehow expressing a sense of immense depth within that range… Maelstrom (Joan-Mael Péneau & Jérémy Cottereau) go to town across these first four tracks at an exhilarating pace, feeding endless twists and turns to us via the stuttering percussion and keys, gracefully maneuvering from song to song.

The B-side maintains the interesting mood, but speeds into acid beats: a funky low-end keeps VZNIETIT pulsing, and the clicky elements give way to AFX-y electro. There’s not quite as much variation across these three tracks – and as their runtime skews a bit longer (5 to 6 minutes versus A-side’s 3 to 4 minute average), there’s the sense that these cuts are geared more toward a dancefloor groove, but they’re still exciting: fast-paced; dark; aggressive; and overall, a nice surprise as a juxtaposition to side A.