Last week saw the release of the third official imprint on Melbourne’s Southern Lights record label, named ‘2S2W EP‘, and is the debut EP release from techno producer DRYAD.

DRYAD is the alias of Lawrence Michell, a techno DJ and producer originally hailing from the United Kingdom. In 2005 he decided a change of scenery was needed, packed his bags, and moved to Australia. He then spent the better part of a decade residing in Melbourne, and in that time hosted a number of notoriously debaucherous and heavily underground techno events as part of a collective called “Billion Underground”; but in the last couple of years Lawrence decided a change was needed, so he relocated yet again, to now live in the city of Adelaide.

Launched by Daniel Filipovic in 2015, Southern Lights is a record label that is setting out to showcase only the finest examples of hypnotic techno and consciousness-probing electronic sounds. Opting for a mixture of limited vinyl releases and digital distribution via bandcamp, the label currently boasts an exclusive catalogue of imprints by artists such as Ground Loop and Craig McWhinney.

A1 Inside now (Original Mix)

Inside now begins with booming hollowed out kick drums, partly achieved due to the tight decays and echoing hall reverb that they’re processed with, and result in the listening instantly placing themselves in the soundstage of the backroom of a large factory.
Right from the get go, Inside now announces its warehouse techno prowess.

A Spaciously shuffled closed high hat pattern is joined alongside by an offbeat, and rather dry, shaker pattern. All of which sits neatly in the foreground, whilst a backdrop of recurring deep tom drums and low pitched synth bloops loop around in a tribally-influenced manner.

As the high pass filters on these percussive elements open up more and more, a pair of heavily-filtered, industrial-style machine noises join in. After a short burst of crackling, sweeping distortion, each element of Inside Now is categorically reduced in the final moments of the track, until it is stripped back down at the end to the very essence and vibe of what lies behind it – Harsh industrial noise stabs and booming warehouse-style kicks.

A2 Inside Now (Annulled User Mallorized Edit)

In this ‘Mallorized Edit’, Annulled User takes the Inside Now and proceeds to inject it with a fresh duality of opposing, yet complimentary, sonic styles.

A dimly lit, deep, thudding low-end aural concoction of bass sounds and kick drums bodes to create a brooding atmosphere of doom and potential danger.
However, this malevolence is contrasted exceedingly well by the pairing of bright, dub-delayed, and almost trance-like synthesizer chords that float effortlessly over the top. They tear the listeners attention away from the gloom of the background and impart some bursts of euphoria into the foreground.

Five minutes into this brilliant edit, Annulled User imbibes the track with some real grit and texture. After a segment of light distortion with some filter automation sweeps swiftly by, the listener is then dropped back into a sonic territory that is replete with flurries of sharply accentuated high-hats and ride cymbals, forming the final symbiosis of downtempo sounds that result in a spectacular re-imagining of Inside Now.

B1 Pressure (Original Mix)

Pressure is a sonorous, pulsating tune that envelopes the listener in a cloak of moody soundscapes and cavernous kick drums, both of which are juxtaposed with staccato synthesizer stab patterns – progressively modulated by nicely timed delays and low-pass filters.

A secondary synthesizer stab accompanies the original ‘bleep’ synth pattern, playfully coordinating with it in parallel harmony, but with somewhat less prominence due to a tightly designed volume envelope, saturation, and some good amount of filtering. Particularly, the attack portion of this secondary synth element seems to be adjusted to give the sensation of being “sucked” in and out of the speaker itself.

Mechanical sweeps, swooshes and other rising noises provide an interesting adjustment to Pressure‘s overall mood in such a way that, without them there, the track could almost be considered to be yet another post-90’s, modular-synthesizer styled minimal techno release.

However, much to DRYAD’s credit: his choice in background noises & ambiences, masterful use of reverb, and clever programming of hypnotic melodic sequences – all combine into forging a track that is dark, cerebral, and heavily atmospheric.

B2 Pressure (Michal Wolski Rework)

Wolski’s rework of Pressure is a decidedly more deep and atmospheric affair when compared to the other tracks on 2S2W. In fact, it is very reminiscent of techno you’d hear on a label like Northern Electronics (think Koridoor, Abdulla Rashim, etc).

For his unique take on Pressure, Michal opts to focus more on the dreary and decaying soundscapes than anything else, placing a heavy onus on stratospheric noises and splashes of raw sound that set themselves squarely in the distance.

He delicately places the percussive elements of the track in a hazy position, slightly outside of focal point – midway between the foreground and background. And, once they are layered within plentiful amounts of sunken reverb and heavy delays: the sonic qualities of the shuffled high-hats and shakers are a skilful mixture of clean, crisp, sharpness, as well as being immensely dense and thick, maintaining a wide stereo-field, and having a profound and unique sense of dimension to them.

Wolski chooses to use a very gritty, heavily filtered, and tightly placed acid-style synth stab in his rework, which gives another layer of character, yet again, to his interpretation of Pressure. By setting the filter cutoff and resonance parameters just-so, the acid stab constantly loops and pushes forward with a distinctive squelch and a biting indifference – all yielding to add a sense of forward facing drive and melodic hypnotism in, what is already, a very consciousness provoking piece of psychedelic electronic music.

Michal’s rework, with its lavish atmospheric and progressive approach, provides the perfect finishing touch to an already savagely lush EP that centres heavily on clever sound design and rich soundscapes.

Final thoughts:

2S2W is an absolutely exquisite EP, bursting from the seams with masterfully composed dark and atmospheric techno compositions. And considering that this is DRYAD’s first release, he must certainly be commended for creating such a monolithic initial exposition into the world of techno.

Another excellent release from Southern Lights, highly recommended listening.

‘2S2W’ is available for purchase on bandcamp on the link below:


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