A Deep voice from the Lake

Maybe it was 3 or 4 years ago. I had first read about it in Resident advisor a year before but as their reviews are often to be taken with a grain of salt and often features duds, I didn’t check the album properly. Then I bought the album on vinyl, great experience but, most mixed albums fit better in the CD format. The mastering on cd here is fully is showcased in its glory at Enisslab studio, owned by Giuseppe Tillieci aka Neel, one part of Voices From The Lake. The title in itself was mysterious and enigmatic and it was one of the first things I heard from Italian producer Donato Dozzy. Voices from the lake consist of 2 Italian producers : Donato Scaramuzzi aka Donato Dozzy and Giuseppe Tillieci. Their eponymous debut, self titled Voices from the lake has gathered unanimous praises and after having listened to it for at least 25 or 30 times, I have to say that it is one of those albums that will come to define an era. The current decade for sure. Is it techno, or more precisely, Dub techno, ambient, minimal, electronic dub or all of the above ? Does it really matter ?

I’ve become less and less enamored with reviewing music because, to be frank, new music kinda sucks when you age (I’m not into the new Massive attack per se, as an example) and second of all, I kinda think like Zappa when he said that ”reviewing music with words is like dancing on architecture”. But here, we have an album that totally reinvents techno especially with those sublime warm ambiences. A lot has to do with the hypnotic grooves throughout the whole record : it’s like one idiosyncratic pulse that never wander away…There is a pulse for certain, but that is not what carries the mixed music as a whole, I mean it’s there, sometimes beneath the fuzzy textures but it’s not how I would define that quintessential record. So how would I ? Or better yet, why would I need to ? The result is rather most intriguing : it’s highly dynamic but yet very enigmatic as the grooves are never locked in there forever. They don’t dissappear either, they rather morph into something – an elusive mix of electronic that holds itself together like shapeshifting alien. The flow, the pacing and the spaces filled in the music are perfect.

This album is not and cannot be an instant favorite. It needs time to delve into one’s psyche. But when it stays, tracks like Virgo, remain there forever : This level of complexity wouldn’t be possible in most producers’ hands. As an art form, techno often strives to make something emotionally engrossing without using conventional stimuli like melody or lyrics. Dozzy and Neel have an incredible ear for sound design (Neel has also mastered many of Dozzy’s past records, including his album K, along with numerous other releases on Prologue), and this allows them to give each moment of the album a vivid foreground, middleground and background, each with countless details to pick apart. Voices From the Lake captivates from one moment to the next, but there’s
 a broad compositional element that keeps the whole thing moving. More than having just a beginning, middle and end, it has an introduction, several chapters and an epilogue.

The most memorable of these moments is “S.T. (VFTL Rework),” a new version of a song Dozzy recorded for an earthquake benefit compilation called Composure: Ambient Techno for Japan. By the time this track comes in, some 30 minutes into the album, we’ve gotten used to the idea that rhythm, texture and atmosphere might be all we’re going to get. This makes the arrival of smooth major chords, slowly cascading into the mix, truly climactic. Suddenly the album has an emotional dimension you didn’t see coming. It was a framework or a gimmick that was used a lot in the 1990’s on the IDM, ambient-techno and techno records. While working within known tools of electronic music such as sound design, linear rhythms, and slow build-ups, they have reworked techno’s fundamentals. This is why it is such a great record, a quintessential record, one that will stick for years to come. The range of soundscapes displayed on that record is so vast that it truly speaks for itself. I can’t think of a single techno, or dub techno, or minimal album that has struck such a deep Voice from the lake.

It is a landscape that is as beautiful as it is mesmerizing. The kind of place where I’d never want to vanish from, or maybe stay in the background, with the music flowing and growing on the same lake. Maybe that’s why it was called Voices from the lake. The voices remind me of Persistence of time by Dali. They never truly get out of your head. And we don’t want to either!

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