Over the course of the past decade or so, Pangaea has been a key player in the UK underground’s shift away from the fuzzy post-dubstep milieu towards the sharper, more techno-oriented sound which dominates today, charting a course via a slow but steady stream of singles and EPs on Hessle Audio and later his solo venture Hadal.
As Hessle prepares to celebrate its tenth birthday, Kevin McAuley is about to drop In Drum Play, which is- with the exception of his hugely popular contribution to the Fabriclive series- his first feature-length release.
Like much of his earlier work, In Drum Play posseses the elusive quality of sounding totally at home within its wider context- almost every track on the release could slot comfortably in to a DJ set- while maintaining a unique shimmer and deftness of touch that is entirely his own.
Pangaea’s equally singular talent as a DJ and selector is evidenced on his Crack Mix, which features cuts from Willow, Andrea, and Lena Willikens as well as label-mates Ploy and Pearson Sound. A whistle-stop tour through cutting edge techno from one of the UK’s very best.
In Drum Play is out on Hessle Audio on Friday 14 October
It’s hard to discuss Kevin McAuley without comparing his career trajectory to the other two-thirds of Hessle Audio. So we won’t. Let’s just say that with FabricLive.73, Pangaea clears the swamp of expectation and emerges with a confident statement of intent. Ostensibly a techno mix, there’s a sense of osmosis permeating the whole thing, with a number of tracks melting together so fluidly you’re not quite sure what happened, or when.
But it’s the bits between which reveal a rudeness informed by and indebted to the continually evolving canon of UK dance music. It’s there in the broken snap of Adam Jay’s Refraction, the dubbed-out momentum of Reeko’s … err, Momentum, and most notably Hodge’s snare-happy Resolve (a track which later re-appears as a ghostly techno-apparition in the form of Manni Dee’s Romantic Self). There are no troughs to speak of, only rolling tundras broken by the occasional huge, jutting monument. It also doesn’t feel like a journey in the way that traditional techno seems to pride itself on. Where most mixes of his stature tend to be bookended by thoughtful ambience, FabricLive.73 opens with a kick drum and ends with the fading-out of a record in full swing, charging in and out of our attention with a palpable confidence. Now can we judge Pangaea on his own terms?
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Words: Steve Dores