Album of the month
Maceo Plex 'Solar' (Lone Romantic)
Now a major player on the global electronic scene, the second coming of American producer Eric Estornel has been quite remarkable. For the first decade of his career he was a niche producer with a glitchy techno sound that won him a small but hardcore underground following. Then, around 10 years ago, he switched things up. Suddenly he was on populist labels such as Crosstown Rebels and No 19 Music, with a much more accessible house and tech sound. Since then, he’s steered back towards techno (including under his other alias, Maetrik) but always with a broad main-room appeal. It’s made him, his Ellum label and Mosaic night at Pacha Ibiza some of the biggest draws on the circuit.
Now comes ‘Solar’, an album that has long been mooted, teased with a precursor EP in 2015 and full-length collection of club-focused tracks recorded during the same sessions in 2016. The final product itself, though, is about much more than the dancefloor: it’s inspired by becoming a father, but rather than being a soppy and saccharine affair, it uses the highs and lows of parenthood to colour 11 moody and often introspective tracks. They range from the rousing, starry-eyed opener ‘Sparks Of Life’ to heavy-hearted trudger ‘The Separation’, with its mixture of bulbous bass and pained vocals. ‘Indigo’ is a slow, dark and thunderous number with turbulent synths, while ‘Kepler’s Journey’ is a reserved bit of post-rave euphoria. As they play out, there’s a sense that Estornel has gone to great lengths to conjure up the sort of deep-rooted feelings that consume all parents. Occasionally the lament can be a little overbearing, but generally it reminds us that this artist has much more in his arsenal than obvious techno rollers. Kristan J Caryl