Hugo Massien is best known for blending house and techno with much harder elements of electronic music. For instance, his No Return EP on DJ Haus’ E-Beamz imprint used a variety of sounds, and earned praise from all around the dance scene, from Bicep to Roman Flugel. It’s this chunky and splitting take on house and techno that has been at the forefront of Massien’s recent production, with his inspiration for this style coming from both folk and DnB. However, Ice Cold Trax embodies a largely different persona. This moving and inspiring EP reveals Massien’s introspective and creative side, whilst retaining his familiar rhythm.
The A side, “Everything We Call Real (Is Made Up Of Things That Cannot Be Regarded As Real)” invites the listener to delve deep within themselves, through a mixture of twinkling piano keys and a sweeping tide of haunting melodies. Accompanying these features is a subtle whooshing, as if sampled from a deep exhale in the crisp wintery air. Mid-way through the 9-minute bliss an incredible vocal slips into focus, in which a deep male voice reads aloud The Laughing Heart, a poem by Charles Bukowski. The poem’s words, which are found on the EP’s description, promise that light beats darkness, and that we must bring light to life as often as possible, disallowing our lives to be clubbed into dank submission by negativity.
The thought-provoking meaning of the A side is mirrored on the reverse, but this time through the medium of Balearic house. A more club-ready number, “Ndima Ndapedza Flip” uses a variety of rhythmical African vocals and folky guitar strums to push the same message as on the flip; that light must be brought to life at every opportunity. In this EP, Hugo Massien reminds us that good music is a source of happiness and light, which should be shared and enjoyed habitually. Refreshingly, Ice Cold Trax steers away from Massien’s recent style, and the EP is both inspiring and energising.