Acutek – “Onyx EP” (Flick) [October 1, 2021]

Hometown hero Acutek delivers chugging, atmospheric techno that’s putting his small Northern Scotland town on the map.

If I asked you to name UK cities you associate with techno, I’d bet you wouldn’t name Forres, Scotland. I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. Forres is a town of only 10,000 – a David in comparison to techno Goliaths like London and Glasgow.

But what Forres lacks in size it makes up for in quality. Quality techno, that is. Hailing from Forres is the one and only Acutek, a new talent making waves in his hometown and beyond. On the home front, Acutek runs FLICK, a record label and club night based in Forres. On the international front, Acutek’s tunes have caught the ears of tastemakers like Berlin-based MELANIA, who rinsed “Onyx” in her recent Boiler Room set.

“Onyx” is the inaugural track on Onyx EP, a three-pack of tunes out on Acutek’s very own FLICK. The tune’s chugging hi hats and grumbling bassline keep the energy lively yet contained. The kick doesn’t speak too loudly, allowing subtler sounds to shine. An icy hum casts a tense glaze over the tune, while a bubbly acid line adds a hint of mischief. This one’s a group effort – each sound stays in its lane, adding up to a whole that is expansive and greater than the sum of its parts.

The EP’s other highlight, “Parallel Bands,” opens with a rising and falling sway. It sounds like radioactive ocean waves on a post-climate-disaster-earth. Bleeps and buzzes create a subtle yet driving rhythm. There’s no snare drum to snap us to attention, allowing us to drift deep into the grooving, dystopian soundscape.

Acutek’s deft production hand is evident throughout Onyx EP. Each tune strikes a beautiful balance between slamming techno force and enveloping atmospherics.

Look out, techno world: Acutek and Forres are coming through.

– Forest Lieberman

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