New York Trax is a record label first formed in 2016 in the depths of Brooklyn, New York City, as a platform for New York-based artists. Despite being relatively new on the scene, The label boasts an impressive artist roster that includes the likes of Richard Hinge, Alex Alben, Dawid Dahl & Another Alias, Steve Stoll, Løt.te, and Boris Brenecki. Staying true to the roots of techno’s core foundations, New York Trax has offered both vinyl and digital releases – with the 12” vinyl hardcopies frequently selling out within weeks.
The label has been met with an incredible amount of positive acclaim, and has garnered global support from a veritable “who’s who” in the global techno community. Due to this continual praise and success they have received so far, NYT recently decided to launch a sub-label called “New York Trax Imports” – which is an imprint that now allows international artists to demo their works for potential release through the label’s impressive reach and worldwide audience.
NYT02 is the label’s second EP release: a 3 track collection of seriously heavy techno tracks produced by Boris Brenecki (Ontal, Impulse Controls), and are the very first works he has put out since relocating to New York City. The three tracks – The Oven, Transit System, and Strictly Hardcore – are based upon Boris’ impressions of the city of New York, the people within, as well as his perceptions of the vastly cold, cement-laden jungles that lay strewn across one of the world’s most populated cities.
Utilizing field recording samples taken throughout NYC’s infamous subway system, alongside traditional studio production, he has masterfully blended a bleak, yet raw and gritty, insight to a city usually known more for its funky house and disco scene compared to the relatively underground techno scene.
A1 – The Oven
We start out with ‘The Oven’: a lo-fi, gritty slow rolling techno track that slowly progresses in character – from pulsating, recursive loops, to expansive atmospheric pads, and percussive flourishes. The main body of this tune is the understated – yet incredibly hypnotic – low-pass filtered synthesizer riff, which plods forwards dutifully and gives a solid basis of rhythmic foundation.
Paired alongside the riff are constant four to the floor, low fidelity kick drums that, whilst not as booming and thudding as a lot of today’s low-end oriented techno “pounders” – would still give a majority of newer releases a good run for their money once heard over a loud and boisterous nightclub PA speaker stack.
Boris has masterfully contrasted the murkier, low-end depths of this composition with sharply spacious, and very shuffled high-hat flourishes. The brightness within timbre of these sounds fills up the high-end frequencies quite nicely, providing an extra layer of depth to ‘The Oven’, and, when combined with the occasional bursts of clap patterns, metallic FM-style percussion stabs, as well as the reappearing atmospheric pad happily rising to and fro in the track’s background: it all results in a well-rounded 10 minute composition of urban electronica; blending the dystopia of 24/7 city life with the eclectic explorations of a skilful, technologically savvy sound designer.
B1 – Transit System
The very instant you hit play on this thudding monster of shifting rhythms and dynamic noise, the track’s name – “Transit System”, strikes some solid sonic associations within the listener’s mind. Bouncing mid-range kick drums drive onwards with a heavy sense of urgency, coupled together with sweeped decaying percussive stabs – drenched delicately in reverb – the combination of both conveying somewhat of a phonic depiction of a speedy paced freight train: The heavy cast-iron wheels progressively spin up to speed as the carriages trail behind, and the mechanistic rumbles of train shackles and pins and levers follow in a rhythmic pursuit.
As the introduction segment rises into prominence, more syncopated percussive stabs and noises join in the burgeoning cacophony of sounds, all until roughly 1:20 in – whereupon a darkly entrenched synth noise stab pattern launches Boris’ “Transit System” into full swing.
Conjoined alongside this rich and choleric stab loop is a secondary thudding 4×4 kick drum pattern which aids to drive forward the already hefty pace of the original soundscape.
Adding further percussive glory to this symphony of gloomy underground locomotion is a heaping of very differently assorted high hat elements: there is a bit-crushed, heavily filtered shaker sound accompanying on the off-beat, after a few bars of which, a swinging 909-style open hat pattern jumps aboard this imaginary sonic train for the journey, followed up by some more traditional classic ride cymbals (with very sharp decay) on each down-beat of the bars – making a sharp, abrupt, and impactful flourish to the beginning of the main breakdown (whereupon all hats cut out).
During this short but sweet breakdown, Boris introduces another percussive pattern to this already sonically rich track: a sharp, metallic plucked noise/synth loop that sinks into the background somewhat – most likely due to some treatment of plate or room reverb upon it. As this sound joins the track’s aural finality, ‘Transit System’ powers down into the last stop of techno subway.
Wheels halting, carriages stopping their recursive swinging, and all the noises and mechanical oddities subsiding. The train has stopped, the passengers have disembarked, and the industrial journey of sounds they have had accompanying their ride are now stuck heavily in the back of their consciousness, more than likely fuelling that power-walk home to the kitchen-top espresso machine.
B2 – Strictly Hardcore
The third and final track on the NYT02 release is arguably the strongest and most pure delivery of raw, no-holds-barred techno from Mr Brenecki, simply titled as “Strictly Hardcore”. The very name alone giving an unmissable and unmistakable insight into the huge powerhouse of sonic bombardment that is to follow. And, For anyone who knows Boris’ work released under the alias ‘Ontal’ (a duo of himself and Darko Kolar) – it’s very, very easy to see where this sudden burst of expedient and chaotic techno heaviness lends its roots to.
Simplistic, yet anticipatory, origins underly the intro segment of the track with a loud, high-velocity closed high-hat stab pattern looping throughout each bar, and a fear-inducing atmospheric noise loop rising from the back to foreground – setting an uneasy vibe of dread and malevolence for the main body of the track that is set to follow after the initial drop.
Never to understate the namesake of the track, the drop in this track is immense, as “Strictly Hardcore” blasts the listener with a ferocious explosion of huge, distorted, and almost gabber-influenced kick drums that thrust and drive angrily and energetically alongside crisp, distorted 909-style high-hat percussion segments.
‘Strictly Hardcore’ is an amalgam of stylistic eras: it cleverly combines the simplistic and minimalistic presentation of 90’s hardcore and classic techno – with the newer resurgence of atmospheres, distortion and bit-crushed reverbs found in many tracks and sub-genres within techno that have boomed all over techno’s underground in the past decade.
The track’s progression is approached in quite a classic 90’s style as well. Rather than long progressive swells of volume and filter automation, the different sonic elements are muted, or switched, at various strategic vantage points to accentuate a more raw, live, and warehouse-rave era style of hardcore techno. Besides the frenetic approach to elemental mixing, clever use of distortion characteristics and levels are utilized in order to “fill up” the empty areas of the sound stage.
Distortion is a hard effect to craft and master for most amateur producers, with very many over-doing it: resulting in a muddy, mushy wall of noise and sound with no cleanliness or bite. Whereas others apply it too much, and too out of place – so that one element is much too harsh and sonically unpleasing when compared to others in the mix that are clean and unaffected, and “dry” by contrast.
However, Boris Brenecki shows off his clear command deep knowledge of this dynamic tool by using it to both enhance the raw, gritty bite of the kick drums and percussive segments, in addition to expanding his track’s soundscape with carefully crafted harmonics and background roar.
Quite simply, this tune is true to its name: Strictly Hardcore.
NYT02 can be purchased on the label’s bandcamp page: here.