The South coast of England has spawned a few great techno DJs and producers over years. One of their biggest unsung heroes is Simon Heartfield. In the techno game since the early 90s, people in the know have long pioneered his tracks, with past releases found in the records boxes of Colin Dale, Joel Mull and Carl Cox.
This latest release is a big, bold and emotive journey. It’s got all the bells and whistles for me – each track standing well on its own, whilst the overall journey is also a cohesive and well-transcribed piece. Easing us in with the hypnotic, chugging ‘Dissolve,’ the album begins with a sample of a train on the tracks and takes you on journey through the inner workings of a huge, powerful machine as it gathers momentum and the outside world drifts away.
Keeping up the pace, ‘Talos’ is one of the big tracks of the album. Definitely designed for a dance floor, its robotic and cacophonous rhythms are offset with a calming, constant, chanting background vocal layer. Whilst now a peaceful woodland and cemetery to soldiers lost at war, ‘Polygon Wood’ was the scene of a battle in WWI. The sound is haunting and frenetic; a ghostly vision of what went down on the battlefield. Shots fired, heartbeats raised, fear pushing the whole thing forward.
Moving into a more upbeat feel ‘Silent Phase’ appears at first to be a warmer percussive track but spirals into an eerie stompfest that sounds like someone gave a church organ some cocaine. ‘Theme Four’ is somehow humanised, as Heartfield takes a turn into the land of “real instruments” and demonstrates how his deft hand with visuals could combine here to deliver an amazing live show.
The acoustic instrumentation carries on in ‘ Always/Never’ as the journey arrives in a strange and serene place, chugging on nicely through ‘Collisions’ ready for ‘Swan Numbers.’ Chilling, sustained organs overlaid with serious, forward thrusting beats and eloquent, high end tinkering that takes you on a trip through the void that is never-ending space, glittering with stars.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is ‘Temple,’ which takes your industrial Berlin style track and pushes it through a 1970s sci-fi filter, before the final track. ‘Rounded with a Sleep’ will do what it says on the tin and lull you into a fluffy dreamland of swirling synths and gorgeous vocal samples.
Overall, a very accomplished record that I highly recommend for both the dance floor and headphones. 8/10
You can hear Simon on his radio show Station 90 on Fnoob and also his monthly show “Secret Self” on Séance Radio.
‘Ornaments & Crime’ is available on Simon Heartfield’s Bandcamp: LINK