You sit in a train, chugging along through the darkness. You are alone in your car, and you aren’t certain whether anyone else is aboard. You plant your elbow on the windowsill and prop your chin with your fist. Nothing can be seen in the endless blackness. Suddenly, your vision is engulfed in a fog of deep indigo. The train is either stopped, or it’s floating, and you can still hear the engine. A crackle comes through the intercom above, and you listen . . .
This may be my new favorite record of the year and, just like the cloudy nature of its intoxicating sound, pinpointing the reasoning proves to be a bit murky. It’s entrancing in a way that sneaks into the listener’s senses steadily, and emits a unique warmth once it’s found a home. L’étreinte Imaginaire (translation: embrace imagination) is the newest full-length by Portland producer Joel Shanahan, donning his Auscultation moniker.
Shanahan reveals his teeming worlds of atmospheric techno and house slowly but purposefully. He begins each song with skeletal minimalism, and meticulously pieces together shifting towers of ethereal, undulating groove. Each track carries a multitude of sublime melodic and rhythmic loops to get lost in, and the pulsing, subterranean bass lines that glow underneath the hazy ambience are about as funky as they come.
This record is strikingly majestic, and possesses an illusory, melancholic appeal that lingers in the listener’s mind long after it’s ceased playing. It functions effectively as serene background music, washing over the listener in tranquil waves, but fixated listening results in the unveiling of vastly innovative ideas composed with masterful elegance. If you’re seeking atmospheric, superbly melodic techno, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)