Tensal – “Virgo” (ARTS) [February 2, 2024]

Héctor Sandoval, aka Tensal, continues to be a name in Techno where we can count on his expertise and come correct with proper form and original ideas as he has appeared on Soma, MORD, Modularz, his own Tensal label, and what has become a creative stronghold for artistically driven Techno in the scene: the ARTS label.

For this latest “Virgo” EP, Tensal lays down a 5-track release centering around the theme of crushed and gritty textures. Heavy dynamics control here is used as an effect to make the tracks feel right on top of your sinuses. This seems definitely to be the case with the absolutely smashed and distorted synth in the title track “Virgo” that’s firmly held together by topper layers and a rolling bassline, with each layer well separated in strong crossover points.

This effect is repeated to some degree in “Molecular Base,” but the surrounding layers are as wide open as a Savanna landscape. It’s really impressive to listen to how wide the stereo image is, as most people are afraid of losing this image on smaller speakers. 

Again, on “Black Annis,” the stereo processing is where the grit in the track lives, and the well-processed synths serve as a focus while the more subtle layers remain as a place for your ear to dig around in the mix. 

“Chromatic Aberration” takes a different approach, leading with a Breakbeat chop but is no lesser dynamically processed. Rather, it is a foundation for a smudgy, resonant synth that squiggles through the Breakbeats while its counterpoint is an emotive pad progression countered by a busy arpeggiated line. All of which feels as though it has a place in 90s Electronica, but the distorted hats and hypnotically disorienting mix of elements are very much a product of 2024. 

The final track, “Osara,” is a part of the digital release only but coattails onto the alternative spirit of “Chromatic Aberration” and breaks down the heavy groove with the old trusty Amen Break and squelchy vox.

Overall, listening to the “Virgo” EP, there are a lot of bold choices and defining moments for the release. The sound design and mastery of setting up elements to do their thing on such a wide sonic stage is really superb and outstanding. Additionally, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll not hear the same EP twice as you did the first time, since there’s a lot to listen to and appreciate on each pass. There will always be some nuance you haven’t yet heard. Tensal’s new “Virgo” EP is a sonic investment and time well spent.

-Sean Ocean

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