Tim Xavier knows a thing or two about making a dancefloor move. Over a decade of releases for the likes of Clink and LTD400 plus an enormous list of engineering credits for Wagon Repair, Ghostly & others have made Xavier very much part of the European house / techno establishment. How, then, will this audio purist approach his debut artist full length? Well, thankfully, he’s stuck to what he’s best at.
After the fuzzy, noisy ambience of opener ‘Ambient Duality’, we’re straight into the uncompromising tech-house fray, and no mistake. Let me be clear: I in no way regard that as a pejorative genre term – as many others seem to, putatively because its not aligned with the contemporary headwind. Indeed, the 10 dance cuts on offer here fly directly in the face of recent trends: the closest we get to the tropes of Mannheim are the subtle chords on the electro-drenched, multi-layered ‘Sequence Madness’; the nearest proxy for the cavernous drones of Berghain are the blunt, gristly churnings on the superb titular offering, or the subtle deployment of filtered white noise throughout.
Otherwise, Xavier serves up an exquisite collection of Cocoon-friendly, intricately propulsive, bass-heavy grooves designed for big systems and messy mainroom floors. Witness the heavy kick and drugged-out vox of ‘Urban Survival’, the insistent bleep and darkly Villalobos-redolent incantations on ‘Incarnation’, and my personal standout, closing track ‘Ambiguity’, which in one fell swoop demonstrates the technical prowess so called upon by his contemporaries, all bottomless low end, skittering percs and slashing hats.
Although the refusal to bow to contemporary pressure might leave Xavier open to accusations of outmodishness, I for one found the selection refreshing, with plenty to get my party moving: torpid, faux-soulful, conga-heavy house be damned.