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Exium – A Sensible Alternative to Emotion



Label: PoleGroupScore: 9/10 

When it comes to dark European techno, certainly many would deem Germany and the UK as the benchmark standards; yet indeed, in recent years more and more talent from other countries have arisen with their top-class releases. Lead by veteran Oscar Mulero, PoleGroup from Spain have been relentlessly pushing the dark Spanish techno sound for years. A Sensible Alternative to Emotion, the new album by Spanish duo Exium, is yet another impressive output from them.

The second full-length by the 10-year veterans, this atmospheric and futuristic piece traverses across various terrains of deep techno, interweaving elements from dub to the more heads-down sort of warehouse vibes and even has a hint of industrial militancy. There’re only 10 tracks in total and except for one all of them finish off before the 6 minute mark, making the album very cohesive and focused as a whole.

This concise approach in terms of duration is juxtaposed with the vibrancy and richness of the finely-textured soundscape – the first three tracks: Dronid, Massless Particle and Parallel Computing are characterised by their hazy, reverberating dub atmosphere and airy details as well as subtle escalations in momentum; and as the album unfolds it continues to evolve, fluidly shaping itself into various intriguing forms.

The relentless, fervent bells and spacey atmospherics on Absolute Magnitude and Biosh are reminiscent of the compelling sci-fi intensity of Planetary Assault System (who’s also affiliated with PoleGroup), whereas the menacing drones and galloping drum work on Cimmerian trail and Novakron start off quite like Traversable Wormhole – until the point where an ethereal synth line seeps in effortlessly. Nucleoid, on the other hand, is a no-nonsense heads-down affair that hammers along thanks to its throbbing sub and thudding kick, before the finale The 12th Planet draws the album to a close with its uplifting and melodious lead.

Aside from the engrossing concepts, the LP also sees the duo showcase their refined technical skills, crafting a tight and refined album marked by its expansive soundscapes and vivid details – it’s not hard to perceive the big-room dynamism even on headphones. Whilst there’s still half a year to go, this highly-accomplished piece could well be one of the best techno albums of the year indeed. 


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