Chain Dark is a 4-track EP from Melbourne techno artist, Voiteck Andersen (better known as Voiteck tD5), released back in July of 2016.
Originally hailing from Southern Poland, Voiteck first arrived on Australian shores at the tender age of 11 and despite not being able to speak one word of English – He quickly assimilated into Australian life and was more than pleased to call Melbourne his newfound home. He got heavily involved with Hip Hop music from a very early age after this relocation, and a lot of this stylistic and sonic inspiration can be heard within the Chain Dark EP: particularly from his use of 90’s influenced 808 & 909 percussive sounds and rhythms – all found within old school and golden era hip hop tracks.
During his childhood years he was known to constantly and consistently devour music of many genres, all of which became the soundtrack of his upbringing – and left a taste of creative expression within his artistic soul that needed to be released later on in life. Whilst he was undergoing his academic studies in electronics in 1993, Voiteck also started initially setting up his own home studio for production. After a slew of sonic experimentation and small musical projects, he began to wade his feet in the areas of DJing and Live performance approximately a year later.
In Late 1995, Voiteck launched his Record label ‘Truck Musik‘ – a platform which he used as a resource for publishing his late-night studio sessions and ongoing works with complete creative freedom. Ever since its launch, the Truck label has output more than 17 releases on both CD and 12” Vinyl. His original compositions (both on Truck as well as other labels) have received strong positive feedback, widespread acclaim, and support from global music media, including such names as: MixMag, Jockey Slut, Musik, Basic, Xccelerater, Raveline, and many others.
Outside of label activities, Voiteck is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most unique and sought after artists. Holding a penchant for his live techno performances in particular, He has performed alongside a veritable ‘who’s who’ of heavyweight names in the global electronic music community, such as: Farben, Derrick May, Goldie, The Chemical Brothers, Jeff Mills, Aphex Twin, and more.
Some older Australian ravers may remember his appearance in the mid to late 90’s alongside another local Melbourne legend, Honeysmack, when the two of them performed live techno on the Australian Saturday early morning music show ‘Recovery’ which aired on the ABC.
This performance was an extremely noteworthy example of his pioneering electronica work as many viewers had never witnessed hardware based techno acts (especially live). More than two decades later, a brand new generation of techno fans were able to see the two electronic vanguards go head to head yet again – when they both performed a live hardware-based ‘Versus’ set at one of Bunker’s “Open Air” Techno parties in Melbourne during 2016.
01. Chain Dark
We start out with Chain Dark, which begins with a very stripped back, minimalist approach that carefully ebbs and flows away in an progressive fashion. Tight, clean, and dry percussion is one half of the track’s primary focus – with the other being the highly filtered and neatly distorted synthesizer section, shifting between various patterns and notes in a timely evolution of melody and timbre.
The minimal techno feeling of Chain Dark is paired with a smattering of Dub Techno influences (the use of reverbs and delays particularly) and stylistically results in a track that is uncomplicated and basic in its approach – yet grooving and dynamic in its overall result.
Within the track there is a mixture of classic 808 and 909 style percussion, which further cements the minimal techno foundations: rolling and bouncy low-mid range kicks and toms, both closed and open high hats with very tightly controlled decays, as well as splashy ride cymbals with just the right amount of reverb.
Adding to all this is the main synth element of the track, which is tweaked to fit within a very narrow frequency range, therefore not taking away any huge amount of focus off of the percussive cleanliness and shuffling rhythm that drives alongside. This synth sound is distorted or saturated to give a real discordant effect to it, yet due to the heavy filtering and equalization, it does not detract in any way from the other sounds in the track.
Both percussion and synth elements are effected by reverbs and delays. They are modulated by such FX now and then, in addition to various automations of such – which result in small breakdowns in the tracks progression, and are what lead to Chain Dark maintaining that delicate mix of minimal and dub techno styles within the same track.
02. Lost Dreams
The next track in the EP is Lost Dreams, which also shares some degree of minimalistic approaches and classic 808 and 909 percussions as the Chain Dark track does. More Particularly, The same style of bouncy, rolling kick drums and highly swung high hat patterns. However, this time around there is remarkably more involvement with reverb use, both in room size and amount of signal running through the FX unit.
Where Chain Dark began its eminence with a trademark minimal techno feel, Lost Dreams starts out with a mixture of Minimal, Detroit Techno, and disco-styled house vibes. A shiny, filtered house chord stab rises in prominence and rises into life during the intro, and is then joined by a secondary sound: A playful and warbling high-pitched droning melody – Sustaining long notes for sections of the bar, and then transforming into sliding arpeggiation towards the bar’s end.
This track is a rather cluttered and busy sounding one, mostly in part due to the many percussive elements and the character of reverb FX that’s enacted across the various sounds and synthesizers. However, the way that Voiteck has mixed each element in relation to each other, his use of filtering, and the way that each sound shifts and moves with each other (likely due to sidechain compression and sidechained filters) – all results in a heavily forward driving rhythm and a grooving percussive vibe, not to mention, every specific element having its own definitive home relative to the soundscape of Lost Dreams as a whole.
Clone, the third tune on the Chain Dark release, starts out with a mechanistic, metallic and repetitive looping structure – Quite reminiscent of the sort of productions you’d find from an artist such as Developer or Sleeparchive. The highly staccato call-and-response style synth riff, heavy in its continual reiteration, is paired with bouncing and thudding kick drums and a gentle crackling noise loop in the background – all creating a joyous phonic quality of dynamism and breathy rhythmic interchange.
As the track advances on through the introduction, a second and third synth sound join in: progressively gaining life and prominence until they’re within the listener’s purview, yet shifted just out of the foreground enough, so as not to take away the central focus of the initial primary synth pattern. Both of these new synth sounds also work in a call-and-response fashion, with one of the sound striking two notes at the beginning of the bar, and the other chiming in towards the end. Not only does this create a solid recurring syncopated melody on its own, but it also works to create syncopation with the primary synthesizer pattern.
The percussion in Voiteck’s Clone is as equally dynamic as it is understated: The kick drum volume levels are mixed quite a bit lower than normal (but are clear and concise), crackling noise loops and stabs dryly ebb and flow in the background and add a vinyl-inspired atmospheric vibe, tight reverberating high hats, crash, and ride cymbals push forward gently underneath the focal synthesizer elements. The hats are dutifully sparse for the first half of the track, however, from around the 2:20 mark onwards, a raw and lo-fi open hat pattern begins to enter into mix and drives the rhythm forward – followed roughly a minute later by a matching layered ride cymbal which serves to aurally compliment it.
Providing some depth and weight to the low-end portion of the track is a highly filtered, low volume, low pitch tom tom pattern, programmed in a very short sequence and side chained quite heavily to the kick drums – in order to provide the classic ‘sucking’ bassline type sound where the listener feels as if they’re being pulled into the very speaker cone itself. This is also combined with some of the kick drum hits being higher in velocity and volume every couple of bars, so as to provide a bit more interplay within the low-end frequency elements. This filtered tom loop stays relatively solitary for the majority of Clone, but then around the 4 minute mark, it begins to rise in prominence as to provide a final emphasis during the last segment of the track.
Throughout the entirety of this hypnotic tune, Voiteck has created a uniquely melodic, playfully fun piece of percussive techno that hooks the listener in with classic looping techno synthesizer patterns – but that keeps the sound stage fresh and interesting with his choice of dynamics and shifting rhythms.
Escalator is a tune that harks back to the days of 80’s analogue electro – with its dry, shuffled, and panning clav patterns, deep 808 kick drums, simplistic yet dynamic percussion hits, and shifting high hats. Occasional clap hits are heavily by deep reaching, long decaying reverb. Tight frequency control is utilized here so that the main percussions are tight and squarely in the foreground, and so that the deep cavernous kick drums give a huge presence in the lower end spectrum.
The main synthesizer riff is a busy and joyous melody that jumps up and down, parading through the notes on the piano roll. The sound design and character of this synthesizer patch was clearly influenced somewhat by late 80’s and early 90’s electro and breakbeat, as it creates a sort of similarity to the sort of synth sounds you might hear in works from artists like Mandroid, DMX Krew, Cybotron, and others.
Additionally, the primary focus of the track – the synthesizer element – is composed of two separate ( yet complimentary) parts. Part one is an arpeggiated pattern of plucked notes sliding up and down each bar, and after 4 bars, rising to its highest pitch and a crescendo. The secondary part is a series of lower pitched, slightly-shuffled synth stabs which act as a sort of bassline – and are varied in their syncopation to Part one.
Escalator is a grooving, rhythmically shifting, jacking piece of electro that harks back to the days of the old school, and a tune that really gives an aural depiction of its namesake: with frenetically rising and recurring sharp synthesizer patterns – you do really feel like you’re on the imaginary Escalator of electronica.
The Chain Dark EP represents a uniquely holistic and old-school approach to electro and somewhat minimal-style techno composition. Whether it’s the strikingly dry 808 & 909 sonic flourishes of percussion, the boisterous and colourful synthesizer patterns, the ostensibly simplistic (yet tightly controlled) melodies, or the intelligent (and sparing) application of effects such as reverb, filters, and delay: This EP is a brilliant showcase of no-nonsense, grooving electronica from one of Melbourne’s (moreover, Australia’s) most unique and longstanding musical treasures.
Voiteck tD5 – Chain Dark EP: