Cratan – “Crestfall EP” (Observant) [December 21, 2021]

Dallas, Texas up and coming producer Cratan outputs a new EP of fast, driving techno on India-based label Observant. Including hypnotic remixes from Wrong Assessment and Franz Jager, the record provides a minimalistic approach to hard techno that is sure to push forward the young producer’s influence on techno around the globe.

“Advance” begins the release with a rolling tribal bassline paired with a noisy snare drum and short, crisp hi hats that exhume a tight and punchy groove. At 146bpm, a well-spaced groove is vastly important in order to make room for the haunting musical elements that follow, such as short vocal chops and in-your-face cymbal lines that appear and disappear throughout giving extra energy spurts when needed.

Next up “Call” provides a similar energy with jacking drum patterns underneath a simple repeating synth sequence. The short reverb and echo tails on the synth are carefully timed to give off a sense of euphoria to the minimal arrangement while the drums remain dry and pounding to keep the dance floor in constant motion.

“Crestfall” is the third original mix on the EP slightly differing from the first two offerings. Quick sixteenth note hi hats waver the tracks energy by opening up and closing back down as Cratan brings in new ideas such as claps overtop the kick drum and distorted ride cymbal lines. The fastest track on the record clocking in at 148bpm, the Dallas-based producer still manages to make space for a finely timed groove.

Italy’s Wrong Assessment and Sweden’s Franz Jager take on the remix duties giving slight variations to the original mixes. First up, Wrong Assessment takes on “Advance” by shifting the bpm down, adopting a more chugging groove while filling up the extra space with sidechained white noise and longer reverbs.

While Franz Jager keeps the same tempo to the original, the Swede vastly changes up the musical elements on his remix of “Crestfall” by ditching the modular synth line for extra percussion and a ghastly vocal pad that sits under the fast-paced groove to haunt the listener. Both proper reimaginings to complete an excellent release for the Observant label.

-Kai Loo

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