F Planet oozes with an untamed, frenetic energy. Where most techno tracks would provide this through deft, tightly interlocked grooves and immaculate structure and pacing, F Planet takes an entirely different route to your dopamine centres. Crisp rhythm sections are supplanted by disturbing layers of noise, ambience and sampled grit that crescendo in unhinged waves – this is and has been the modus operandi of DJ Spider since forever, but with Franklin De Costa also at the helm, the gaunt, demented noise focusses itself into more evocative spaces than a lot of Spider or De Costa’s previous work.

The central tenet of Astral Plane is an interplay between heavily dubbed out…. are they wind instruments? It’s hard to tell, but their cavernous, ghostly presence is a much-needed anchor amongst the fuzz that surrounds which also provides its thematic counterpoint and adds character to the minimal hi-hats that keep the bare minimum of a tick, and never shift focus from the star of the show. The final minutes see the dissonances of the opening give way to a majestic chord sequence which owes more than a little to De Costa’s house leanings.

The title track is a little more direct in its dance floor intentions, but as with Astral Plane, its chosen route subverts techno tropes cleverly. The rhythmic hook of the opening two minutes recalls artists like Lucy and Stroboscopic Artefacts more fully – but where they would make this hook the star of the show, here it acts as a fake-out. From the two minute mark, we’re treated to a rough dose of acid as a bassline pulled straight out of a black hole emerges. What’s most astonishing is how it’s manipulated – initially abrasive and almost obnoxious, it gradually softens until what you’re left with is a resonated loop that bears the hallmarks of Drexciya. A final, uplifting coda adds yet another flourish of virtuosity to proceedings.

Shifted takes a hammer and sickle to F Planet, flattening out the multi-layered nature of the original and replacing it with the sort of ambiguous dread that Shifted has had nailed down for some years now. It’s an excellent techno track (nothing less is expected from him), but we really do have to give the gold star to the originals here – they’re original, inventive and bursting with the sort of detail that elevates above and beyond the plethora of good techno that occupies record shelves at the moment.

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