Evelyn – “Surface Tension” (Self-Released) [March 13, 2023]

Recently, I’ve found myself using this specific term more and more to describe a certain sound in Techno that I’m always on the hunt for: ‘Proper Techno’. It may sound like an elitist gatekeeping term, and maybe it is. But like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography, I know it when I see it. And Evelyn’s “Surface Tension” EP perfectly embodies the ethos of Proper Techno to a T.

At its simplest, Proper Techno is fast, dancefloor-oriented, and intense without sacrificing depth and atmosphere for brute force aggression. It’s an ephemeral nomenclature, yet it’s become a very useful sieve to pan the golden nuggets of Electronic ore out of the massive river of music being released every day.

Centering lightly toasted arpeggios diced into 16th note bites and served on a plate of meaty, driving drums, this record dominates your senses and leaves you wanting more.

The EP’s opening track, “Steppe,” sets the tone for what’s to come. With a relentless bassline that pulses throughout the track, Evelyn expertly creates a sense of tension that builds and builds as the song progresses. The hypnotic rhythms and delicate, shimmering synths create a feeling of weightlessness to evoke that moment when you finally get through the door and enter the rave with your crew in tow. It’s a perfectly constructed opener and a warmup for what’s coming next.

Pictured: Evelyn

The title track presents us with something more insidious. There’s a sense of mischievous looming with creeping, spidery synths weaving their way around a bassline that appears and disappears with glee. It almost feels like a game of chess as Evelyn shifts the pieces around, making use of call and response. Exuding a certain classic vibe, the track ends up feeling endearing despite being quite threatening at first blush.

“Incubate” is the final chapter, and it’s an absolute banger to bring things to a close. The distorted arpy basslines used throughout the EP reach their logical conclusion in this track, driving home the point under no uncertain terms. The percussion is tight and more tribal, providing the foundation for the synths to take over with almost mathematical precision. Yet, despite the technical expertise on display, there’s still this sense of playfulness present throughout. It’s a track that will have you moving your feet at breakneck speed.

Overall, “Surface Tension” is an EP designed for the heads—the kind of intelligent, smoldering Techno that reminds you why you love this scene. Evelyn is clearly on the rise with an ear for beats and timbres that make you want to just keep on dancing. If you’re in the market for a proper trip through the wormhole, this is definitely one worth checking out.

-Dylan Brady

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