And here we are, in the year 2017. While there are certainly other jawns to air out from 2016, for this listener, 2017 represents the year where the excitement drummed up by Timedance's unimitable output during the previous year seemed to rejuvenate labels like Hessle and Hemlock who had been at risk of calcifying while those bastions of the new school honed their focus and increased their ambition. That Batu kicked off the Timedance release schedule with his Murmur EP is something I've always found incredibly bold and respectable as outside of the title track, there isn't much in the way of obvious banger material on hand. The title track sees Batu arranging his army of drums into a tribal-electro foundation while "Groundwork" is a far more pensive piece, rocking a metallic percussion and toms tango at a simmering 116 BPM.
However, it is the final track on the EP that is the true revelation on hand here and I know I would likely not feel that way if I hadn't heard it dropped at 7am on New Year's day this year following seven hours of chugalug techno provided by The Carry Nation and the hosts of the evening, Wrecked (the fabulous monthly party soundtracked by the duo of Ron Like Hell and Ryan Smith). With rhythmic tendrils extended, "Whisper" creeps into life as the skittering toms that are a hallmark of this EP are replaced by what sounds like a "UFO" sample transformed into a seething bed of movement. As a dainty shaker gives way to an aggressive sixteenth-note high-hat pattern, toms quickly charge from the back to the mix straight to the front, landing squarely on the one with a single, thundering BOOM. Much is often made of how "good" "techno" sets rest on the dynamic of build and release, and at first, "Whisper" seems like it promises to deliver one whopping payoff. Instead, with that thundering kick hitting on the one only once every sixteen bars, a techno tarantelle falls into play as tightly compressed kicks come in on the two and three but refuse to ever fill in the negative space that threatens to swallow the whole song who. Watching this be deployed upon the most peak time of peak time crowds was an utter revelation. No longer was this "the dance music no one dances too" as the screams of delight emanating from the dedicated throng signaled that this track was indeed setting it the fuck off while also serving as one extended, seven-minute tease of a track. Personally, that was the moment that I realized just how immaculate the sound design is within Batu's tracks as I suddenly felt like I was hearing a wholly different song than the one I had played in my bedroom countless times before that night Since then, I have borrowed that page of Ron's notebook for my own recordings and haven't come close to capturing the magic he created, segueing back into the comfort of the 4X4. But for the seven minutes that this song hovers in existence, everything else seems to fade away as you're swept up into the swirling void that is Batu's world of sound; cavernous, immense, yet oddly reassuring. It might mark a serious departure from the typical fare, yet it provides the bridge back to firm land with aplomb, like a velvet-draped H-Bomb.