"o.utlier opts to meld the two worlds, showcasing a record of epic intimacy that pairs floaty, somnambulant sounds with dub and IDM-laced techno burners"
o.utlier’s work fits neatly within the realm of contemporary techno: trippy, occasionally icy rhythms paired with head nodding beats that expand and contrast over the course of six to ten minutes. He dabbles in dub techno on some tracks and pursue straight-ahead house on others.
As the co-proprietor of the Titrate label, o.utlier publishes works that explore the expansive ambient soundscapes reminiscent of the farther flung aural ether of Echospace. With his debut album on Appian Sounds, o.utlier opts to meld the two worlds, showcasing a record of epic intimacy that pairs floaty, somnambulant sounds with dub and IDM-laced techno burners.
‘Alaya’ opens with a lush four-track ambient suite. The half hour flows by in a peaceful trance that takes the listener through different states of relaxation and contemplation. The tracks are initially beatless, while “Moabit, 022017” adds light percussion that keeps the vibe firmly in the cosmos. “Worshipper” sprawls close to thirteen minutes of pure minimalist relaxation. It washes over you and provides blissful aural comfort. The sounds are tranquil and mesmerising. If you were to isolate these four tracks into an EP, it would already stand as a top release of the year. And this is only the introduction to what comes next.
The pulsating beats of “Isochrone” signal a tonal shift in the album, one from glacial sonics to driving, lysergic IDM that populates the record’s back half. “Isochrone” brings you out of your mellow fog through a steady rhythm over ghostly synths. The switch feels natural after thirty minutes of beautiful, spaced out sounds.
In the return from above, the rhythms and beats feel firmly planted on the ground, whilst keeping a sense of wonder at the beyond. “Celesta”, with its shimmering bass and synth waves ebbing and flowing, sounds like stargazing distant galaxies all night long. “Ghara” follows suit, transcending the danceable patterns of previous tracks and closing the album with a nod to the euphoric, meditative zones of the album’s opening. Another track that furthers this sonic synthesis is “Catatonic”, a beautiful slice of ambient techno euphoria. Where some records use ambient interludes as atmospheric filler, o.utlier deftly mixes the two vibes to hits the sweet spot between chill out and club sounds.
The LP edition ends there, but a digital bonus, “Esida-varsa”, further excavates a Braindance-adjacent sound that would fit in on early Warp releases. In another nod to that golden era, the phenomenal “Svatgatam” builds a classic EDM atmosphere that’s equally hypnotic and propulsive. o.utlier wisely avoids full adherence to nostalgic sounds; rather, he uses that template to build his own soundscape that floats off in the clouds at times and puts you in the most zen club you can imagine.
That combination of relaxing sounds and uptempo, even club friendly, tones should be inviting to a number of listeners. ‘Alaya’ has stand-out tracks, although it would be hard to describe why the digital closer of “Esida-varsa” feels so earned after the journey from opener “Suspend”.
The record’s opening build up makes the payoff of the album’s back half a rich, satisfying adventure into the London-based producer’s unique vision on the full-length format. On ‘Alaya’ o.utlier embraces a diverse sonic arsenal to craft a record that’s expanded and enriched the further you listen.
‘Alaya’ is scheduled for release on 18th September via Appian Sounds. Order a vinyl copy on Inverted Audio Store.
3. Moabit, 022017
10. Esida Varsa [digital bonus]