Review: Emmanuel – Limits

Emmanuel Limits

Those who have been in the techno scene for an extended length of time should be no stranger to Minneapolis-to-Berlin transplant Dustin Zahn’s excellent Enemy imprint. The label, founded in 2004, certainly has a reputation for consistent quality from lesser-known artists as well as top-notch material from top-tier talent like Truncate and Pan-Pot. Following up on the success of the last offering from this label, a fantastic split EP from Flug and UZB, is the “Limits” EP. This particular release showcases the talent of Grecian producer Emmanuel Beddewela, whose last EP “Radice” on his own Arts label earlier this year was charted by the likes of Alex Bau and Sian. While I wasn’t intimately familiar with Emmanuel’s work prior to this review, the four finely-crafted pieces of peak-time techno which straddle the line between deep and driving presented here have definitely caught my attention.

The EP begins with the titular track, announcing its presence with shuffled, highly-saturated drums and hats that give way to a thundering reverbed-out kick. The intentionally low-fi rhythmic chug is soon punctuated by pristine pad chords, creating an interesting juxtaposition of dirt and definition. As the track progresses, we’re treated to a nice building chord pattern which tweaks a bit on the decay and filter work, giving it a classic dubbed-out feel. The overall impression is strongly reminiscent of classic early-2000s works by Joel Mull, Jel Ford or DJ Misjah.

Next up is “Okla”, which begins with Truncate-style stabs mixed with more grimy percussion and hi-hats. The use of analogue-style tape saturation continues with a solid groove reinforced by shakers and more filter work. On the flip side is “Rebirth,” which offers an interesting use of delay on driving hats along with alternating, jaunty chords with different attack settings which reinforce the dubbed-out motif. “Nuke” closes out the record, and takes the EP in a slightly darker direction with a little more sub-bass work and big-room percussive hits. Reverb-heavy builds combine with bass dropouts to round out the track, which is certain to be a hit with the Berghain crowd.

Ultimately, this EP seems to mesh perfectly with label owner Zahn’s slogan of “hard enough for the boys, groovy enough for the girls.” These four tracks function well enough as DJ tools with just enough intricacy and melodic content to keep them interesting to the home listener. Either way you look at it, the record is definitely a fist-pumping good time.

As of the time of this review, Emmanuel’s “Limits” EP on Enemy Records is currently only available on vinyl from stores such as decks.de. The digital version should be out shortly after this review is published.