Over the last four years London-based electronic producer Hugo Massien has been at the core of London’s thriving breakstep house / tech scene, with previous releases on labels including E-Beamz, XL Recordings and Tectonic. As its title suggests, this latest 12” EP (his debut on Keysound) ‘Remnants / London Underground 2014-16’ sees Massien rescuing six previously lost deep tech dubs, dating from a period where the London deep tech scene was arguably at its peak.
‘You’re The Only’ opens proceedings with a grimy snap in its step as a male soul vocal sample intoning the title phrase gets rippled and cut up against soft-focus pads and tumbling metallic percussion, the coldly precise techno sequences adding an icy counterpoint to the smooth melodic elements. By contrast, ‘Lowkey’ veers further into straightforward tech-house structures as thundering 4/4 kickdrums, stacked handclaps and dark synth sweeps set the scene for Calle Lebraun’s eerie pitched-down spoken word contributions, as the track locks down into dark electro bass funk, showcasing the ominous robotic grooves that power beneath much of this EP.
‘Pleasure System’ meanwhile gets more stripped-back and jittery as rattling handclaps gather pace against eerie minor-key synths, growling bass pulses and manipulated vocal samples, before throbbing bass arrives to power things off into evil-sounding electro sequences and flickering arpeggios, in what’s easily the creepiest moment on offer here.
Elsewhere, ‘Mystery Muzik’ brings the elastic snap back before a burst of dark distorted synths signals a turn towards cold electro landscapes as flickering synthlines worm their way a gathering storm of ominous synthetic orchestration. Consistently excellent stuff that’s well worth seeking out – if these are ‘lost’ tracks, I’d love to see what else Massien has in his vault.