Stef Mendesidis – “Klockworks 33” (Klockworks) [October 8, 2021]

Stef Mendesidis delivers his awaited third outing on Klockworks, four cuts each of singular, raw techno.

Progressive is a good word that comes to mind when describing Stef’s music. By progressive I don’t mean the subgenre, but rather the sort of approach that seeks new rudiments and synth “isms” that by virtue of their ideas, move a style forward. No two tracks of his seem too similar, though his EP’s have had a cohesion beyond each individual selection, and his “one-take” production has been thoroughly discussed as well. Having recently made a move to Kyiv, the Greek producer is embracing the impressive buzzing techno energies there and continues creating his own legend with this latest release on Ben Klock’s imprint.

From the very beginning “Stalker” does not let down its title, introducing a frenetic synth theme that slowly filters in but right away signals that this tune is different. It bounces back and forth, as if rolling down Highway 666 in a black souped up Mustang, a lone traveller on a path straight to the devil, with analog grease and a hard rock intention. The ‘stalker’ synth’s urgency, its simplicity and weirdness, is mind-bending, the sound completely raw. Spacy pads and solo bits answer its call in the background. And the claps, usually bright and big in techno, are almost muted in their EQ, contributing to a sense of foreboding darkness, like the hidden eyes of any true villain, covered as if hinting at paranoia.

“Profiler” wastes no time dropping into an acidy, funk-fueled, rockn’roll flavored uptempo number that picks up the dark energy and takes it into unexpected hybrid territory. There are still hints of dystopian sci-fi synth flourishes, but overall the vibe here opens up to pure energy. Marking this shift, the claps in this cut are snappy, crispy, brighter. The hats are fully open as well, much more present, driving in classic techno fashion. I wouldn’t say the mood is happy, but the darkness has mostly dispelled in favor of groove and syncopation; that is to say, in this case, a palpable sense of anticipation, perhaps for the future.

A soulful Chicago style progression anchors the core of “Wurlitzer Academy”. If I didn’t know better, I would call this warm cut “house music”. The percussion at the heart of the groove chugs along while the title wurlizter swirls soulful circles around it, hypnotic, seductive, relaxing. Stef shows a well-roundedness here with this track– it exists somewhere between house and techno, with the tempo high, the vibe lush and beautiful, perfect as an opener or closer to unify a crowd.

Lest we relax too much, Stef brings things full circle, immediately returning to proper techno vibes. “Sonica” drops in with pace and energy, defined by a proto techno bass pulse, a snappy lead synth, and chilly strings to accent the eerie mood. The 909 drum sound reinforces the classic style, sounding uncompromising yet instantly familiar. The main synth, snapping filtering morphing with its envelope, flies up above while delayed hats and percussion roll underneath. This roller, like “Wurlitzer”, clocks in at a very lean mean 4:49, but I wouldn’t complain personally if it were a whole minute longer.

Listen to “Klockworks 33” above, available on wax and in digital formats.

-Nicolaas Black

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