The Brooklyn-based Fifth Wall Records is one of the best new labels of 2013. They usually release hi-tempo, dark, stomping techno, yet they also trade in something more than just the warehouse sound currently trending overseas. There is a deliberate depth to the catalogue, reminiscent of European underground techno. No wonder talented visionaries such as MRSK and Moerbeck have already appeared in remixing roles so far, steering Fifth Wall’s sound into a freer, experimental context for basements, instead of big room rave environments favoured by collectives like Turbo.
Though the label was only launched in February 2013, their latest EP, Designated #41 by Leeds’ debuting artist Unklone, is their sixth instalment. It opens with Tetsuo, referencing the cult classic Japanese anime Akira. Aerial background ambience floats over dynamic, powerful beats, giving the overwhelming feeling of unbound movement. This is lustering cyberpunk music at its best, guiding the listener through hypermodern metropolises at night. The second track Sleep is a more direct affair. Apart from the kicks, there is only a short sample of a man’s voice and a repetitive play of an exotic drum. After the second minute, swirling dub echoes fill the background atmosphere, yet the result remains bare through the whole time.
On Designated #41’s other side, Grit 555 is a true heavy-hitter, bringing Blawan immediately to mind. A sudden, contorted vocal haunts the track’s clockwork percussion, while in Clouds’ closing remix the whole setting is turned dystopic by lonely, steel-framed machinations. There may be no US artists this time, making this EP an odd-one-out, yet nevertheless Designated #41 is worth your money. A great first-timer by Unklone, but even all the better is to observe that Fifth Wall’s store of mature, thought-provoking techno has not yet been exhausted, a small miracle given their six solid releases in such a short space of time.