Heiko Laux – “Procrastinator” (Kanzleramt) [November 25, 2022]

One of the leaders of the Berlin Techno scene and founder of the Kanzleramt label, Heiko Laux returns to the fray with a four track EP of purposefully subdued Techno with “Procrastinator.”

Two or three years have elapsed since Heiko Laux added his name to the credits of the Kanzleramt “None the Wiser” VA that included Joel Mull, Ray Kajioka, and the Bay area’s own Dhyan Moller. With some humility, Heiko Laux lovingly pokes himself in the ribs with the title here, but what the listener gets is a set of tracks that have a quiet intensity and a heavily compressed and controlled feeling throughout the entire EP. The familiar love for the Juno 106 sound is still all over the release, but the levels of the dynamics are pulled right over your eyes.

The “Procrastinator” tracks have a tight and looming quality about them as if they were a subtle threat. The “Procrastinator 90’d” track provides additional tribal drums and funk to contrast the heavy dynamics. The entire release also references the difference in approach between the 2020 era aesthetics and the 90’s aesthetics where using a tribal loop was something of a must. The audience’s recent hunger for the hard grooves makes the “Procrastinator 90’d” track something of a crowd pleaser, while the “Procrastinator 20’d” track keeps things solid with a stern, stripped-down feel.

The next two tracks, “Quixotic” and “Fickle”, are a tad cerebral in their approach yet still retain the heavy themes set by the Procrastinator tracks. The uneasiness set forth by “Quixotic” provides a constant question, or in musical terms, a call with no response. It provides the listener with this feeling of constantly rising synth fingers crawling up your body. The only temporary reprieve is a chord hit that starts out as a consonant tone and ends on yet another question. There’s been music like this in the distant past, like Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” with its incessant writhing tension and sexual frustration for example. However, when hearing it in a Techno context that taps on the listener under the influence of entactogens, the track has to be played amidst a really intense kind of mood at the right moment in the night.

Closing out the EP, “Fickle” continues the heavy mood, but throughout the track there is interspersed Acid burbles, Roland basses, and a hand-laid lead line that seems like it’s either pushing against a VCA gate, played against a choppy LFO, or purposefully not letting a note decay properly. It’s strange, but it gives the track a human quality that cannot be ignored. Just when you seem to be really confused by this, an expertly laid-down sequenced Juno takes over—definitely true to the track’s namesake, “Fickle”, indeed.

All in all, the “Procrastinator” EP is what you can expect from someone who has had the time and effort to put a serious level of thought into the tracks and has no willingness to let things out simply to keep to a release schedule or to keep his name in the game. Heiko Laux has little need to prove himself worthy in the eyes of Techno fans worldwide, and as such, what he releases is a pure satisfaction of his artistic curiosity. What he has laid down here certainly advances the genre of Techno creatively. Both Procrastinator tracks are guaranteed to keep people moving on the dancefloor, but the inside tracks of “Quixotic” and “Fickle” will live rent-free in your mind for quite some time.

-Sean Ocean

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