Review: Anthony Jimenez – Time Under Tension

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Anthony Jimenez has serious goals when it comes to Detroit’s underground techno scene. His debut EP, Time Under Tension, soon to be released by Blank Code, is a surprisingly solid first step into production for this DJ who has made a name for himself locally with his appearances at Scene, Blank Code’s monthly techno event at the Works in Detroit. In fact, Jimenez moved from Cleveland to Detroit a couple years ago specifically in order to be part of and contribute to the underground techno that was happening around the Scene shows. That earnest desire to make techno from and for that circle of fans, DJs, and producers comes through in six tracks that sound purposeful, poised, and designed for some serious ritualistic dancing in the club.

The title, Time Under Tension, expresses to me the economy of style that characterizes this EP. The tracks have a spareness and patience that sounds like time is being carefully measured out into powerful danceable quanta using the fewest elements necessary. Don’t get me wrong – these tracks don’t sound minimal. But they do sound planned and controlled to create a deep dub techno sound that is devoid of extraneous sounds, unnecessary business, and any kind of showy flash. Solid is another word that comes to mind. Fundamental elements of the sonic palette, specifically the slightly fuzzy softness in the kick drum and the general ambience of the spaces between the sounds, have a distinct Detroit style to my ears. In most respects, these tracks are working within the techno circuit that first arced between Detroit’s more minimal and industrial techno offerings and the dub-inflected and new wave-oriented Berlin sound and that is currently being redefined and refined in another round of experimentation that, in my opinion, is oriented toward reaffirming an active underground centered on techno’s simple internal logic – a challenging modernist aesthetic served up in an ecstatic dance club experience.

Five of the six tracks on the EP are full-on, dance-oriented works that present consistently strong and interesting beats over which arches a well-placed and carefully textured architecture of sound. Breaks, fills, and drops are superbly timed to build anticipation and deliver satisfaction. The one markedly different track is the opener, Eternal, which is a slow and introspective atmospheric piece. Equally well-designed as the dancier tracks, Eternal, with its droning backdrop occasionally pierced by a steadily-struck distorted temple bell sound, a plodding bass, and simple delayed vocal utterances, introduces the EP as a serious, meditative exploration of deep techno. The introspective mood carries on into the well-paced, non-stop dance tracks that follow with surprising consistency. I recommend the EP as a whole and look forward to what more Jimenez has to contribute to Detroit’s and the globe’s ongoing exploration of techno as sound and dance experience.