X-IMG label release “Self Aware” | Album Review

[dropcap]Self-Aware[/dropcap], the second release on the Berlin-based label X-IMG is a harsh and, at times, relentless exploration on the boundaries between dark industrial, techno and EBM. As a compilation of up-and-coming artists in the industrial-techno genre alongside some more familiar names, Self-Aware is collection of tracks that concentrate on heavy kicks and unforgiving bass lines. Each producer—hailing from all over, including Canada, Italy and Russia—contributes a strong point of view that, when compiled together, is a nicely curated collection suitable for the foggy chasms of the dance floor.

The opening track “Absorb in an Other” by Halv Dröm (Saxon Jorgensen, from the band Ascetic) builds and eases into a pulsating heartbeat until it explodes. Aleks Schatten (Berlin-based DJ, writer and producer) makes his debut with “Tribulations”—a distorted and acid-tinged track that is both intrusive and unforgiving in its attack. SΛRIN (who has an upcoming EP on aufnahme + wiedergabe and another on Veleno Viola with Blush Response as KONKURS) can do no wrong with his clean and simplistic, yet menacing track “Sentinel” with all the elements of the old school industrial sprit. However, the highlight of Self-Aware is Human Performance Lab (SΛRIN and Matthew Cangiano from Vierance) with “Acetone”. It’s an unexpected track based on the overall mood of the rest of the compilation that combines the distinctive SΛRIN bassline and snare with a—dare I say—softer, melody that recalls pre-rave early 90s techno.

Side two jolts into “Schianto Contro II Tempo” by Bakunin Commando (Violet Poison) which is pure, pacing EBM and not unlike the genre’s progenitors of which he is obviously inspired. S.G.H.L.’s “Meat Machine” is another exceptional track—perfect in its druggy, off-kilter yet danceable beat. “Hipnoz” by Nick Larkin is perhaps the most pure of techno in Self-Aware; the Moscow based producer does know just a bit about it, after all. The compilation closes with “Into Self” by Dolgener (part of The Cast Project), a track that recalls Dirk Ivens’ Klinik and Sonar eras with its distorted vocals and cataclysmal noise.

Self-Aware’s contribution to the current scene is in its diversity: it re-imagines the sounds and attitudes of dismal, apocalyptic music from decades ago yet has the prescience to understand the next wave of what’s to come in industrial techno. The compilation comes as one of 50 hand numbered and shrink wrapped limited edition cassettes with j-card or as a digital download here.