If you don’t know, get to know; Dro Carey makes techno. Well, actually for the purposes of this review he does. Because although the sounds emanating from his first link up with Ramp Recordings, the double 12” ‘Journey With The Heavy’, are steeped in the kind of minimal four-to-the-floor atmospherics of Pantha Du Prince or Ricardo Villalobos, the reality is that the highly prolific 19- year old (I know, sickening isn’t it) is the sort of bass music chameleon that the boundless nature of the internet seems to have spawned in its hundreds. Previous work featured on labels such as Hum & Buzz and Trilogy Tapes have shown Carey’s way with everything from R&B to warped and twisted juke. ‘Journey With The Heavy’, however, is all about the minimal.
Carey is a native of Sydney, Australia, yet his influences are markedly global, making stops in the techno heartlands of Detroit and Berlin, and stopping to pick up more than a little of London’s ever-burgeoning electro scene. His music has garnered appreciation from the usual places (The Wire, DJ Magazine, Mary Anne Hobbs etc), as well as touching on the fringes of the hipster blogosphere (single ‘Promothug’ making an appearance on Pitchfork).
This double 12” innovates with strains from techno’s past: the wailing of nu-soul divas, bubbling, muted drums often limited to punchy kicks and choked claps, heavily chopped vocals to the point of incomprehensible half-syllables.
There’s a threatening undertone to the tracks: darkly minimal, but at the same time not overly spacious. ‘Talk Smak’ introduces the skittish vocal chops that seem to be used neither as narrative or as textural layers, but as extra percussive sounds. ‘Tarred Adonis’ drives this point home, adding a few dissonant chord patterns and syncopated claps into the mix.
Light relief comes in the form of the airy ‘Motorvibe’, and ‘Brite Lotion’ slows the rampant pace up to this point to a comparative crawl (still well above the 115 BPM mark for those techno heads getting worried). The collection’s title track is a real minimal gem, full of air and endless reverb on ominous, metallic sounds.
Carey’s ‘Brain So Soft’ Tumblr page has long been home to a collection of videos and found images. A recent post included a psychedelic and disturbing video for standalone single ‘Heart Bussa’, demonstrating Carey’s skills at portraying his music visually. It’s this visual aspect that seems to drive his compositions forward, and the Aussie electro-chameleon could do much worse than focus his overflowing creative energy on producing more nicely balanced minimal techno like this in the future.
‘Journey With The Heavy’ is released via Ramp Recordings on December 5.