When it comes to techno, some tracks are best played early in the night while others are better suited for peak time. Oliver Dodd’s “Hydrogen EP” is most certainly the latter, and while it might be too abrasive or intense for most small gatherings, these tracks will be well received when played for a large enough audience, in an adequately large, dark space. From start to finish, Dodd holds nothing back; taking his listeners on a sonic journey that explores the deep, dark, and sinister sound he has been developing over the last decade.
Starting the EP off is the unbridled, ferine track “Carbon.” Pounding drums and an animalistic synth lead that vaguely sounds like a voice allow the listener to jump right in. Just as you begin to make sense of the track’s pattern and groove, a new layer is added to prevent fatigue. Utilizing relatively simple percussion patterns, Dodd manages to add drama with his percussion by using crisp and gritty timbres for his hi-hats and rides. Much like the two tracks to follow, less aggressive sounds, like the bright house stab brought in around four and a half minutes in, are sprinkled throughout to add subtle, cross-genre flavor, juxtaposition and appeal.
The second track “Helium” takes off where “Carbon” left off in a way that makes this EP feel truly deliberate and cohesive. Once again, a more colorful sound creeps its way in after the two-minute mark and works to at least temporarily lighten things up. Shortly thereafter, the same sound is warped and stretched to oblivion, taking things back into the dark and psychotic realm of peak time techno. It’s moments like these that help connect us to the sensibility that lead to Dodd’s choice of album artwork for this release. A melted puddle of abstract patterns and faces that succinctly match the nature of this music, and the effect it will have on its listeners.
Of all of these tracks, the most noteworthy in my opinion is the darkest selection, “Oxygen.” Brooding and ominous, this track sounds like it came straight from the underworld. A menacing rave alarm keeps you locked in, while an off-time clap pattern accentuates the off beats. This track is stripped down, yet feels full and unpredictable. And if that isn’t enough to suffice, a remix by label cofounder, Decoder, takes the track in a different, more textural and complex direction. In this interpretation, the percussion and melodies merge, creating a rolling, rapid-fire pitter-patter that is sure to overwhelm the senses. This remix offers something different, while complimenting the ethos of the rest of the release.
Oliver Dodd’s “Hydrogen” EP is a dark and wild offering that’s best saved for the climax of the party. Serving as the label’s fourteenth release, ESP should certainly be proud of this well crafted release. Support the artist and label with a digital download.
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