"Inspiron marks XDB's first solo release in five years, and is built of the bread-and-butter floor-ready magic that he's made his name on"
In some ways, it’s surprising that it has taken 14 years for Kosta Athanassiadis, better known as XDB, to release an album. You feel like most lifers – especially those who have been putting out the type of patient and atmospheric dance music Athanassiadis has – are owed a bit of an indulgent “home listening” album every decade or so. But XDB has been taking his time and ‘Inspiron‘, marks his first solo release in five years, and is built of the bread-and-butter floor-ready magic that he’s made his name on.
The time away from a more regular release schedule seems to have suited him. The album is, in a word, unhurried, moving through the types of adjectives we expect from Athanassiadis: “deep” and “dubby” could be applied to just about every track on the record as they slowly unfurl across subdued melodies and loose rhythms.
That doesn’t mean the record is homogenous. “Transitions” has minor chord modulations and 80’s Blade Runner bass hits every now and again, making the track feel just a little bit eerie. But there is still a wanderlust in the pads that makes the whole thing feel less midnight car chase and more road-trip day break.
“Lopak Robot Ocean” and “Dial Fonk” are two excellent throwbacks to Dial’s roots in the German minimal years. “Lopak Robot Ocean” is day drunk and lop-sided, the type of groover that you could imagine soliciting a few “Track ID?!?!” comments if posted on a Sunwaves-adjacent Facebook page. “Dial Fonk,” is a similarly wonky track with a melody just weird enough that you could imagine Riccardo slipping it in at Club der Visionäre.
Elsewhere, we have more straight-forward XDB tracks. “Endo” showcases Athanassiadis’s ear for melody with one of the more forceful kicks on the record moving the song forward. Likewise, “Moveya” has that very Hamburg/New York deep house sound from the mid-2000s: a skittering arpeggio and delay on the kick that could be slotted into a set by Move D or Lawrence just as easily as it could be DJ Qu or Levon Vincent.
By the time I hit the colossus closer, “Ortago,” a similarly deep track with synth squelches and a lead line that feels like sugar and spice and everything nice, I was reminded of Tobias Rapp’s book Lost and Sound, which charted the rise of labels like Dial. In that book, Rapp describes an effortless cool to Dial. And you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of that effortless cool than these two slabs of wax from XDB that square the circle by making nostalgia feel very contemporary.
‘Inspiron’ is out now via Dial. Order a copy from Bandcamp.
5. Lopak Robot Ocean
6. Dial Fonk
7. Mystic AV
8. Desert Night