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Traversable Wormhole - Vol. 01-05

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Artist: Traversable Wormhole

Album: Vol. 01-05

Label: CLR

Review date: Jan. 21, 2011

The 12” series, anonymous or not, has a particular purchase in minimal Techno. Think of contemporaneous collections by Richie Hawtin, Thomas Brinkmann, Maurizio, Basic Channel and Wolfgang Voigt in the 1990s, or more recently, Robert Hood’s Monobox, or the Sleeparchive white labels. But the mysterious thrill of anonymity seems the way to go in these days of extreme information overload, and so it was with the five Traversable Wormhole singles, which leaked out during 2009 and 2010. Hailed by their contemporaries, generating intrigue and rumor each time the needle hit the groove, these steely productions carried an air of authority that implied they must be borne from a master, going quiet to escape blog/web glare.

Indeed, it was the redoubtable techno site Resident Advisor that quietly let the world know, via an Invisible Jukebox-style interview, that Adam “X” Mitchell was the man behind Traversable Wormhole. And now here’s the mix-disc, Vol 01-05, on Chris Liebing’s CLR (Create Learn Realize) imprint, where Adam X lines up these 10 sides like Russian nesting dolls and slowly places them, one after the other, inside a permeable container of his own making.

The first thing that really strikes you upon hearing the Traversable Wormhole records mixed together is their homogeneity -- though they occasionally shift from techno’s four-to-the-floor template to include rhythms that are closer to dubstep (see “Exiting The Milkyway,” for example,) these Traversable Wormhole cuts rarely bring in any tones or patterns that aren’t dark-hued, deep blue or black in their synaesthesic resonance.

But such single-mindedness bears its own pleasures. For one thing, the set flows. There’s a frayed-electric-wire stench to the synths in “Exiting The Milkway” that’s thrilling, as though Adam X is moulding these productions out of cut and dissembled technologies, broken electronics to match the broken beats. Better yet, “Transducer”’s shuffling flood of mainlining noise sends spasms of jouissance ricocheting between your ears. Hi-hats hiss like radiators on the blink; percussives hammer and thud like Polygon Window’s “Quoth” gone rife. These tracks can sometimes lead you back to some particularly tortured metaphor -- "buzzing fluoro lights" etc. -- but that’s because they play within a language of occluded, underground techno that’s pretty well-defined.

Ultimately, Traversable Wormhole is austerely and clearly formed techno, with a stentorian cast. Sometimes its pleasures are hard-won, but as with many of these collections, perseverance is the key. (Think, for example, of the initially unyielding parlance of Voigt’s Freiland singles.) The mystery’s gone, but in its place stands an exemplary techno mix. And, with almost tiresome inevitability, a batch of remixes -- the "peer review" system of techno.

By Jon Dale

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