Emmanuel – “Emmanuel presents ‘Stealth’ 02” (Stealth) [April 2, 2021]

This four tracker from ARTS label head honcho (in the form of ARTS sublabel Stealth), Emmanuel proves why he’s calling the shots as a tastemaker for ARTS, a label which, let’s face it, is poised to upset more well known labels in its consistent quality output.

The whole EP has a similar production value as a mid 90s album from FSOL, or Massive attack. As such it has this instant timeless quality that I’ll be reaching for in my crate again and again.

“Track 1 “ here immediately comes out the gates with a big nod to FSOL’s Papua New Guinea and then blows its sway into some heavy 4 on the floor action which is consistent with the mood of the current dance floor. It eventually blends back in with big proggy synths, which if you’ve been paying attention have always been a part of Emmanuel’s personality. Where some people would take this opportunity to go off the deep end and reach for the lasers with epic trance chords. Emmanuel manages to rope it in to keep it techno and keep it tasteful, as well as consistent with the FSOL-esque theme.

The second track “Adapt” which is a collab by Emmanuel and Deepmash matches the deep chord aesthetic that was set as a precedent in the prior “Track one.” As the track slowly blooms, it presents a rolling progressive vibe which keeps the other worldly classic vibe of the EP intact while presenting itself as a track that could be used to cool down a banger track or in a post peak set at 4am.

“Animals”, the 3rd track on the release sets the tone with an aboriginal vibe, modern broken techno and samples of birdsong to contrast well set and distorted drums that once again really sound they’ve been mastered for a long lost and overlooked 90s album. Once the native jungly theme (Papua New Guinea?) of the track is set down, the track breathes free from the tension of the broken techno with solid proggy grooving pattern while birdsong plays throughout. This might be a bit unsettling for a crowd which came to hear cold unfeeling techno, but if you’re a good DJ you’ll be looking for any way to contrast that with a track like this which transcends the walls of the dank warehouse or stodgy club.

Last track up is “Era” which is a track that admittedly has more huevos than most techno music that lives in fear of sample clearances. The first 50 seconds is either chock full of samples or ripped from a scratch DJ record that mimics tuning through a radio by dial (stay with me Gen Z). It then goes on to open up the track with a nasty sampled breakbeat which has a minor reference to new jack swing and some of the previously used RnB samples. As the track moves forward it somehow still retains a pure techno aesthetic which keeps with the heavy nostalgic theme of the EP in tact while delivering some very modern and current ideas that wouldn’t be out of place in a current DJ set. It’s well placed balancing act that shows a mastery of control and knowledge of what is, and isn’t techno, and the it’s with this knowledge that Emanuel really is at play. Saying what can we do with these constraints? What can we try?

So all in all, this EP is a massive success because it is trying to do something different while making a clear artistic statement, but also doesn’t shy away from seriously dance floor rocking ideals. It’s a really striking EP and shows the intellect and talent of one of the current leaders of the techno scene in the last 7+ years.

-Sean Ocean

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