Andrea: Due in Color Album Review

The Ilian Tape label from Munich is a family affair. Its founders are the brothers Dario and Marco Zenker, and dance music runs through their veins: his aunt, Dorle Zenker, ran the iconic Ultraschall nightclub, ground zero for the city’s techno scene. The label’s tight-knit core roster, in turn, resembles a sort of chosen family; several of their artists, such as Skee Mask and Stenny, have released exclusively on the label. Andrea from Turin also belongs to that list. He joined in 2012, after meeting the Zenker brothers at a concert in his hometown, and has since become one of the label’s most prolific artists, amassing eight EPs and one album that epitomize the breadth of the distinctive local sound. by Ilian Tape.

Although the label’s origins lie in the minimal and dub techno of the late 2000s, over the past decade it has gradually carved out a dynamic zone where techno, jungle, drum’n’bass, electro, dubstep and bass mix freely, and even the heaviest club tracks are imbued with an aura of elegance; there have even been a handful of purely ambient releases. (Daniel Avery has described the label’s signature as “broken beauty.”) Andrea’s productions have spanned all of those sounds, but her new album, due in color, goes further; Neither strictly ambient nor conventionally focused on the dance floor, it feels like an attempt to hybridize club power and ethereal atmospheres.

Andrea’s debut LP, 2020 Return, was immersed in the lush textures of Detroit techno and ambient jungle, and was accompanied by a handful of purely downbeat experiments. As Return, due in color It opens with a pair of steamy air fresheners packed with luminous synth pads and acoustic textures (thumped ride cymbals, tactile snares, possibly the sound of dripping water) through to a mammoth reverb. and i mean gigantic: Like a cathedral in a cave in a massive canyon, the kind of reverb that would turn a nightclub sound system into soup. The burly dub and drum’n’bass rhythms of the tracks suggest a muscular recollection of dancing, but the proportions are all wrong. Andrea recorded most of the album while clubs were closed in 2020 and 2021, and she feels like she’s surveying an imaginary space, separating the idea of ​​clubbing from reality.

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The first half of the album pursues that concept through a succession of drum’n’bass-driven tracks that flip on the hallmarks of the genre. Some of Andrea’s EPs are among the label’s most impactful releases, but on “Remote Working” and “Silent Now,” the drums are practically engulfed by waves of layered synths and gelatinous bass. The impression is of drum’n’bass frozen in amber, each intricately detailed rhythm strand floating suspended in a honeyed glow. “Lush in End” delves further into the viscous depths, burying jungle grooves under oodles of shimmering distortion, like Tim Hecker remixing Shed.

The second half of the album moves into more explicitly ambient and downtempo territory. The vibrant “Chessbio” evokes the jazzy feel of Carl Craig’s “Bug in the Bass Bin”; the quieter “Hazymo” blasts with the random breaks of vintage Ninja Tune or Mo Wax. “Dove Mai” is a beautiful fusion of heavy bass with steamy synths, but “Am Der’s” twinkling piano and wispy pads, by contrast, feel light, too pretty, too soulful. Every once in a while, it seems Andrea is letting all that bulky reverb do too much of the work for him, filling in the gaps where, perhaps, a more idiosyncratic idea could have been allowed to take shape. But at its best, for example, with the wonderful pads and the gigantic sub-bass of the closing “Return_Lei”—due in color offers a unique proposition: the most dreamy ambient music, given the massive scale and the physical presence of an earth-shaking club sound system.

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