Vil & Cravo – “Klockworks 32” (Klockworks) [July 2, 2021]

Enigmatic Portuguese duo Vil & Cravo deliver a 3-track EP on Ben Klock’s imprint, showcasing a deep and soulful take on techno, a stylistic, genre-defining release with its beautiful production.

Vil & Cravo’s label collective Hayes “promotes art as a fundamental element of cultural incorporation and critical thought… it embraces experimentation as a driving force for an artistic output devoid of prejudice.” A truly worthy credo for anyone creating forward-thinking electronic music, Vil & Cravo go far beyond that on this release. They reveal an incredibly smooth touch, mixed with finesse, an ability to produce high energy, deep raw rolling rhythms balanced with elements containing warmth, funk, and soul. These layers are seemingly old school, yet stand out as a bold move in the context of many techno records that lean towards harder/more dense sounds.

“Fuck This Dub” begins with am immediate syncopated groove. A warm deep house stab accents the uber clean vocal snippets, while a clever clave-like percussion pattern loops in stereo. A lush pad floats in and out, adding even more vibe. The smooth balance of the insistent rhythm section with soulful tones on top is uncanny. As all the hihat layers drop in together out of the last break, this tune rolls to a satisfying finish.

From the very beginning of “Dubbd” a hypnotic vocal loop is introduced that drives this track like a pulse. Very quickly the hats take over, shuffling and building in intensity. A highlight of this cut, the hihats keep varying in velocity and are never boring, the programing and layers resembling live drumming. As the hats fly, additional harmony manipulations allow the vocal to take on more character about halfway through, morphing from natural to robotic. Dubbd is more raw than FTD, taking the EP further into jackin techno territory.

Closing this release in even deeper fashion, “Links” opens with a classic sounding organ riff and a sample asking “Y’all Feel It?” The answer is most assuredly a “yes.” As the 909 kick propels us forward, a dark pad veers into dystopian territory, for a moment balancing soul with a sense of foreboding doom. But these moods are very well balanced, Vil & Cravo displaying excellent dynamic control, and “Links” feels uplifting through the darker moments.

On Klockworks 32 Vil & Cravo create a beautifully crafted sonic environment– smooth, clean, deep, all the while bursting with pure techno energy, perfect for magic unifying dancefloor moments that glue the night together. This EP is a masterclass in techno from a duo clearly well aware of their powers.

-Nicolaas Black

Link – Bandcamp

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