‘Planet 4’ is the fourth album by Prime Numbers boss Trus’me, and is about to be released on his imprint at the end of May. For an artist working primarily within the spheres of house and techno this illustrates a surprising comfort with the LP format, which artists often fail to fully exploit to their advantage. The LP’s title refers to the fourth planet of the solar system, Mars, and like many full length techno records, it wears its sci-fi influences proudly on its sleeve.
The music presented shows a continuation of the toughening of the Mancunian’s output from the disco-influenced house he made his name with in the ‘00s. The two opening tracks chug along at around the 100bpm mark, but the sound palette of infrared synths, piercing strings and round bass notes mean that even at this slo-mo tempo they are undeniably recognisable as techno. From this point he moves into the more traditional territory of the 120s, and uses the framework of four by four techno to represent the foreignness of a distant planet.
While there are clear tropes of sci-fi techno present – distorted vocal snatches, jarring beeps and majestic synth sweeps – Trus’me manages to illustrate the sense of alienation most impressively by the loopy, and at times jarring, writing in his music. ‘Ring Round Heart’ is one of the clearest examples of this; the piece is built around a bleeping melody, scratchy vocal sample and protein-fed kick drums, and Trus’me adds flangered hi-hats and claps to these looping elements to create a driving intensity to the song. Later in the album ‘Our Future’ appears; this song follows a similar framework, although this time around the snatches of vocals are sparser, depicting growing dehumanisation.
While some of the loopy pieces can border on discomforting, there are a few more serene moments. The third track, ‘Dark Flow’, is a softly-spoken piece of dub techno that lulls the listener into a false sense of security before some of the tougher material that follows. ‘Here & Now’ paints a picture of seeing the sun rise over a desolate planet. At under four minutes runtime, it would be nice if it had a longer duration as a DJ tool. However, in the context of the album, it seems fitting that this slither of light fades away before fully forming.
As a whole the album is very well-written and executes its concepts fantastically. It may not be too accessible for fair-weather techno fans, but there are rich pickings for those who are interested in the sci-fi references present in the genre. The reason it is so effective at telling its story is through smart sequencing, and this should be a pointer to any other artists who are wondering how to translate their music to the long-playing format.