Ben Klock's Klockworks imprint is on the roll again after last year's jaw dropping, incinerating two tracker by Rod. Next up to bat is techno goliath Steve Rachmad, under his Detroit tinged alias Sterac. Even though most material released under that moniker reveals a more introspective and melodic sound, adopting harmony over club effectiveness, "Track 2" aims straight at the dance floors. Steve Rachmad has been successfully churning out pristine & pulverising techno stompers for almost twenty years now, so the decision to collaborate with one of Berlin's currently crucial labels seems like a dream come true. More in the vein of his "Liteon" release recorded as Sterac for Tresor some years down the line than for example the classic albums "Secret Life of Machines" and "Thera", the grooves throughout are tense, the percussion is stubborn and stripped to cellular level, while the melody work is loopy and minimal. All four contributions are utterly functional tools you can hardly go wrong with.
With its two-note organ riff and vigorous synths, "Track 2" is the most conventional Sterac track if you will, and the only one here with glimpses of the emotional touch and harmonic drive we associate with that project. Everything about the organ-like riff stabs make one think about Robert Hood's restrained approach to minimal techno, and I mean that as a cmpliment. Tight production and heavy focus on meticulous, subtle key changes is what makes "Track 2" the standout track in my opinion.
The only thing able to give the previous number a run for its money is "Rotary." The track applies more delicate percussion elements, yet it compensates for that during the mid section as militant, marching toms roll in, backed up by some nasty filtering, electrifying drones and nerve tickling pads in order to create anxious tension and a shivering peak time atmosphere accentuated by some seriously impressive high-end action! One of his finest club oriented tracks in years.
Now, after going through the A side, you know tunes like "Rotary" and "Track 2" will be hard to emulate. "In Circles" is a loopy affair with delayed metalic riffs and inspiring, shuffled and corrugated hi-hats. It's very much a straight forward minimal techno workout, with competent floor commanding characteristics, yet it lacks the more memorable moments that embellished the A side, like for example the precise synth work on "Track 2" or the strong build-up of "Rotary".
"Scheepsrecht" drops a gradually penetrating percussive lead and restrained organ notes that subdue the tension. The ascending strucutre of the track reminds of "Rotary" yet it never really takes off and erupts as that one did. Instead, the lead is kept on a tight leash, and just when you hope it would bark at you, Steve pulls it all back into the realm of restrained minimalism. It's still all done to very good results, mind you, and the latent nervosity this track packs can go down a storm in clubs, if properly combined with more climax driven material.
After a somewhat disappointing double pack under his Parallel 9 alias, Steve Rachmad is back in full effect with this four tracker. Last year, he already gave us a glimpse of his brilliance on Maan's "Trow", where he contributed with two banging remixes, and his latest on Klockworks is even better. The first two tracks sit along perfectly to his older club friendly techno material recorded ten plus years ago, and the B side, while not as memorable, still boasts two hot and powerful DJ tools. Basically, what you have here is a geared-up Dutch techno legend discharging four slices of late night, peak hours techno. When was the last time you heard Steve Rachmad do that and go wrong? There really is no excuse not to own this. The A side cuts alone make the purchase essential, especially if you miss the old days of Scorp, Ignacio and similar material.