To describe Russ Gabriel’s musical output over the past three decades as prolific would somewhat underplay his contribution to the more emotive facet of the UK’s techno scene, which has seen the Brighton based Ferox Records boss discography accumulate just shy of 100 EPs and several albums since the genre’s heyday.
With such an enduring and indeed pioneering stint within the realms of soulful electronica under his belt, Gabriel has undoubtedly amassed countless synth melodies, drum patterns and frequencies across the spectrum, and this era-traversing character is embodied in this most recent two-tracker on Exalt Records.
A slow-tempo, metallic broken beat underlays a heady, stratified groove in ‘Planet Discovery’, which at just short of seven minutes is an ode to the cosmic echelons of synth-rich, stirring 90s techno. Complex sonic layers intervolve and effervesce with harmonious intensity, a wide-eyed space odyssey punctuated by robotic and somewhat melancholic synth elements woven together with a precision indicative of Gabriel’s three decades mastering his craft.
The EP’s B-side is a euphoric reshape by Future Beat Alliance, the alias of UK techno stalwart and Gabriel’s close compeer, Matthew Puffett. A symbolic two decades since the release of his highly-regarded Abaco EP on Gabriel’s very own Ferox label, Puffett pares back the original’s drum elements, emphasising the raw, progressive power of an augmented and ethereal synth-line. The tempo remains unhurried, revealing a prominent, progressive bassline with almost trance-like, hypnotic quality, rounded off with a haunting female vocal to replace the original’s spoken word.
The record follows a string of recent releases and reissues by the likes of John Shima, Swayzak & Theorem and Puffett himself on Exalt after a 10 year hiatus, and it seems fitting that a 12” showcasing the exposed soul of a somewhat overlooked dimension at the stylistic core of UK techno should be next. With a preeminent roster, Exalt is doing exactly what it says on the tin, and has resurrected to become a platform for the best of British machine music. Much like the label itself, ‘Planetary Discovery’ extolls UK techno’s extraterrestrial past, propelling it into the present.