Stanny Franssen
Playing With The Blox

By Andy Rantzen

Stanny Franssen’s first album starts like a masterpiece and ends like a solid loop-based tech-house record with a darker, more stylish vibe than is traditional for the genre.

Every track is strong, but there is no question that he put the very best eight tracks first. They are corkers. Starting with two dark, paranoid atmospheric pieces without heavy percussion, things wind up slowly through grey-black mists in the land where dark drum and bass used to dwell. Like Photek, Franssen’s dark D'n'B influence is primarily in the frequencies he prefers, but this is still techno in form and structure, favouring uneasy interlaced four-bar string melodies and the paranoid too-much-telly sci-fi touches not a million miles from Eon, but with less of a sense of freaked-out comedy. The drums are rough, dark and hissily shimmering; the electro-through-hip-hop rhythms are suffused with a kind of mechanically intense, opiated funk.

Halfway through the eighth track, we move into 4/4 kick territory, and the sound becomes a rather detached powerhouse of rhythm, still with that grey-black shimmering mood, extremely dense, with a blurry reverb over everything that falls just short of muddying up the mix, which remains particulate but clear, like a depixelated black and white photograph. The occasional DJ flourish (everything phasing or filter sweeping for a bar) is disruptive to the intense introspection of the groove invited by headphone CD listening and reveals, once again, that dancing to vinyl and listening to a CD are activities that lead in opposite directions.

This is not quite a cohesive album, but a bunch of superbly executed tracks which share a certain cerebrally physical dream mood that is thoroughly modern and European.
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