Italy’s Stephan Barnem has had quite decent success thriving in Europe’s techno scene. With solid releases on the likes of Dubfire‘s SCI+TEC and Maceo Plex’s Ellum, as well as compilation appearances on John Digweed’s Bedrock and Richie Hawtin’s M-nus imprint, Barnem has laid a solid foundation. But moving ever forward, he recently launched his own label, Encants, and is dropping a self-titled full-length.
While this release covers a lot of aural ground, showcasing the spectrum of Barnem’s styles is one of the clear standouts, a heavy thumper called “The Break.” This is the kind of techno track sure to turn heads on the dancefloor. Stripped almost beyond the bones and down into the marrow, a tectonic kick hammers under a small array of other percussive elements, all sculpted from the hiss of white noise. However, it’s the synth that not only takes the focus here, but also pushes everything over the edge. A hypnotic arpeggiated lead rolls in, refusing to relent until it has run over the listener’s mind like a steamroller in slow motion. Its sound twists and squirms through shifting intensities, but the trajectory never waivers.
With those seemingly simple elements, Stephan Barnem creates an enormous and dynamic journey that is compellingly inescapable. There seem to be eternal moments where there is simply a kick beating, until finally a variant of percussive noise pierces the thick veil, awaiting another roll of the synth. It’s the kind of track that does so much with so very little. It’s memorable, for certain, and definitely a testament to Barnem’s skills in the studio.
Available February 15 via Encants.