Chris Liebing – “Bruson EP” (CLR) [July 16, 2021]

Chris Liebing relaunches beloved and pivotal techno label, CLR with his own Bruson three-track EP after more than half a decade.

For those of you who are green to techno and just stepped into the shores of the vast ocean of German techno, it’s kind of a big deal that one of the most prominent techno producers of the last 20 years has relaunched his CLR Label. A label for which was a guidepost for many techno musicians to set sail on their own personal journeys. In the era of the late 00’s and early 10’s, most prominent techno had at least a good tinge of the CLR aesthetic dyed into it. Boosting careers and advancing the sound of techno is so much a part of Chris Liebing’s mentality that he had downplayed his own Bruson release on the official statement in favor of promoting other upcoming artists on the CLR Label. Quite the gentlemanly thing to do, but we see you Chris.

Chris Liebing’s “Bruson EP” release marks a return to CLR business as usual after a 6 year hiatus, and is a pre-release of sorts to his album to be released on Mute, “Another Day” later this month. It seems the EP marks a new point in Liebing’s evolution as well. Bringing on heavy hypnotic atmospheres and subtle progressions to compressed distorted and stripped down drum grooves, but remaining true to what has brought him a signature style over the last decade.

First track on this EP “Mind Bender” kicks off with Liebing’s carefully crafted kick and layered bass. A well worn signature for him, and blends it with a deep saw bass that slowly evolves through the composition with chorusing and reverb while abbreviated hats and crashes that calmly provide the tension for the track. It seems with the addition of filtered toms, we’re also getting a little bit of a nod to the older Chris Liebing in the early 00’s, and with the prolonged ride heard here, that is even more apparent. Also noticed here is the speed of the track, though some others now are 145 or bust, Chris knows that keeping your tempos at a reasonable pace makes it easier for dancers to keep stamina up for longer DJ sets.. something for which he is also well known.

Next up is “Alchemist” a track which Starts out with a dark and deep vibe with massive synth hits while a low filtered, fat and accented 303 esque sequenced bass line (Moog?) builds the track and fills the groove. 16th note hats here are gluing the top end together and keeping pace over the main elements while the background pad is hunting around the beat and these epic synth columns. The track is the most massive and epic on the EP and definitely the star of the show.. especially as it grabs you emotionally and pulls you forward to take notice. There’s nothing wild demanding your attention.. just a master at work carefully merging sound design elements together to great effect. With solid, tight grooves and layers of ideas, this is A+ work.

Last up on the EP is “Agent” coming back around again with solid compressed kick and toms combo and 16 note hats, which are the theme. A trio of synths build tension and fight for attention, building the mood on the track while various treatments are applied.. the track has a great industrial feel to it with the addition of the snares and relies heavily on that for the groove. For other industrial techno fans, this might provide a good banging warm up for what’s to come later on in a set. The atmospheres here are the thing that really sets Liebing’s work off here. It seems the atmosphere synths are what might be indicative as a new departure for him creatively, as some of the parts feel like play and have an element of discovery to them… it feels as though it’s something that he’s keen to share and it is great to listen to these parts roving within the track.

All in all this work is a pretty top notch release by none other than a certified master of the art (literally, have you not seen the masterclass? Link: There are few others that can hold a candle to his level of experience, the sound design and craftsmanship of the work here. Though what really gets my blood pumping and excited to see what else Liebing is hiding on that forthcoming album is “Alchemist.” It’s a well crafted and subtle killer that’s going to be heard throughout clubs around the world all summer and through to winter. Trust.

It really remains to be seen what kind of influence Chris Liebing and CLR is going to have on the current techno climate, but it’s a great thing to know that a lot of labels and producers are pushing diversity. As a label, CLR’s experience and sound are a well-known voice. How that will shape the frontier of techno to come is super exciting. I’m truly thrilled to see what’s going to come out next.

-Sean Ocean

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