As documented by Kit Macdonald for Resident Advisor earlier this summer, bubbling “Inside Copenhagen’s fast techno scene” is an exciting sound cultivated on community and rave spirt. Spearheading the movement – formerly as a member of Apeiron Crew, and then via her jointly run label Ectotherm – Najaaraq Vestbirk AKA Courtesy shares her new solo project Kulør (colourful); a fresh label indulging both Vestbirk’s artistic endeavours (collaborating with Spine Studio and photographer Fee-Gloria Groenemeyer for the artwork), and further championing the Dane’s beloved trance-techno alliance on a world stage.
Punk-turned-experimental noise and techno artist Schacke provides gunshot drums and caustic decay with “Automated Lover”; a thrusting piston rhythm haunted with celestial keys and the jangle of loosening bearings. An absolute body rocker for The Moat crew down at Dimensions Festival. His second offering, “Designer of Worlds”, is punchy and faster. Surging along the track’s natural ebb and flow is a heavily manipulated waveform, and although the energy changes and the arrangement can be enjoyed, the sound and melody of the main synth line feels a touch bait and big-room – a sentiment not usually identified in Schacke’s more introverted releases. Co-founder of the legendary Copenhagen techno party and collective Fast Forward Productions, Sugar delivers two functional and percussion-heavy stompers in “Drowner” and “Same But Different”. The former thuds with a distinct murkiness, textured and deep; the latter gallops in tribal form together with prancing, overdriven synth lines for maximum carnage.
Enter two opposing yet delicious trance slammers from the man mused by Kit as an “evangelical devotee of 1990s Swedish, Danish and German hard trance” – BunkerBauer member IBON. Leading with a characteristic drum flow and juddering bassline, “Forest Car” journeys through stripped-back, poignant soundscapes with momentary shimmers of youthful naivety and exuberance. A raging alarm sounds the start of “No Sleep” before pure waves of euphoria wash over, inducing a high-octane, collective state of transcendence.
Repro – co-owner of two other prominent Copenhagen labels, count 0 and Euromantic – opts for heady subtleties and hypnotic sound design for the techy roller that is “Det Går Dårligt”. His “Hot Led Payoff” bangs harder with demonic intent and ghostly funhouse commotion, serving proper fright-night techno fare. Rune Bagge’s skippy percussion and ringing synths in “This Could Be Us” offers militant intensity with little else – a prospect which works absolutely fine, but feels a touch dry compared with other cuts that exude an abundance of emotion. In collaboration with Adam Askov as Funeral Future, Repro closes the compilation with “Heute Nicht”: a quintessential, melancholic trance-techno ballad; contemporary, heavy duty, and built around the most gorgeous of synth melodies.
Curatorially, Kulør 001 serves as a great point of reference for digging, affording two cuts per artist (mostly) on a ten-track compilation, enabling both an understanding of individual styles as well as the Copenhagen sound as a whole. Away from doldrum techno, Copenhagen’s 140 BPM style is pushing both bodies and minds in the dance again, and most importantly, putting smiles on faces with the occasional trance melody. The appetite is palpable – you only have to look as far as Courtesy’s Dekmantel Boiler Room (amongst others) to feel the sound breathing new life into scenes beyond Denmark. Watch out for Kulør affiliates bursting onto a scene near you in the coming months and years.
Ps, trance haters. Grow up.