David Psutka’s Egyptrixx moniker has been a shining light amongst the Night Slugs catalogue for the past four years. His stripped back constructions, where the disparity between noise and silence is the constant underlying theme, first featured on the UK label back in 2010 with The Only Way is up and suited the concepts of the label like a glove. A full-length, a format the label hadn’t tried before, followed shortly after and Bible Eyes demonstrated that Egyptrixx, and essentially the concepts behind the label, wasn’t the sole domain of the short player, leading the way for other artists on the label, like Jam City, to adopt the format. Egyptrixx ‘s sophomore effort followed in 2013 and A/B till infinity revealed a new direction for the artist, but still maintained some of the ideologies of the label. Although at the core of the album, tracks like Alta Civilization and Liberation front, still upheld the minimalist aesthetic of Egyptrixx’s earlier work, it also looked to explore fuller textures, that carried with it an emotive expression, often interpreted in beat-less tracks. It’s this exploration that’s continued on to his latest offering Transfer of Feelings [Feelings of Power] and probably also the reason that Psutka opted to release it on his own label Halocline Trance rather than going through his adopted home at Night Slugs.
The album sees Egyptrixx shirk the focus on the dance floor almost completely while the minimalist charm of his previous work is re-imagined into fuller texture, where less is still more, but percussive elements are no longer the central focus. The first slightest hint of a regular percussive beat only comes in at 4 minutes through the third song, Body II Body and when it does arrive it is clouded with the same oppressive sound design of the preceding tracks. Halocline Trance set the scene with the sharp metallic sounds and organ-like synths that find their way to you through a few pleasantly simple melodic refrains. These ideas continue on to the title track, which sounds like a continuation of the opening track, and one can clearly discern the Canadian producer’s presence behind the sounds he has cultivated. The sweeping ominous tones of Transfer of Energy transfer a dark energy in his distinct idiom, but what’s missing is the dichotomy between silence and noise that was his calling card on Night Slugs. The textures are far heavier than the stark landscape of grime and techno he was often found to work in, and it indicates that Egyptrixx has moved further into the expressive territory he explored briefly on A/B till infinity. It’s something the title blatantly suggests and the little melodic refrain certainly hints at during the opening track, but its also obvious on Nyassa’s accompanying vocals on Body II Body as it swims in dissonances through the vaporous pads and erratic metallic percussion. Even when a candid 4/4 kick comes into the picture the pads don’t disperse as they might have done in the past, but swath each off-beat through a side-chained compression in an effort to subdue the large kick by way a continuation of the visceral moment that preceded it. If Egyptrixx’s intention was to transfer his feelings to the often functional and cognitive dance track, he’s made it clear on Body II Body, but this track also highlights something else; Psutka’s mastery of the long-playing format. It appears that everything that has come before this moment, 4 minutes into Body II Body, has led up to it. The short melodic introduction of Halocline trance, which builds up through the ominous tones of Transfer Energy to the tense moment the pads swell around Nyassa’s voice, is the genesis of the development that resolves into this particular moment of the album.
Alongside Discipline 1982 and Conduit [repo], Body II Body also suggests that Egyptrixx hasn’t completely abandoned the dance floor completely. These percussive-heavy compositions might have gone deeper into techno territory than before for the producer, but as Discipline 1982 reflects, Psutka’s experience of the dance floor is paramount to his work. The swinging beat and bubbling bass-lines, which intersect with the sharp metallic synth stabs, has become Egyptrixx’s calling card over the years and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s accounted for here. But as the kick drum at the end of Discipline 1982 starts repeating itself indefinitely and abruptly at the end of that song, we are made aware that it needs to all be considered within the narrative of the album. It’s not an album made up of various dance floor singles with the beat-less number thrown in intermittently for variation. It’s an album that takes the listener on a progressive journey. Mirror Etched on Shards of Amethyst interjects a calming influence from the uninhibited assault that Discipline 1982 delivered onto us. What seems an almost endless moment of complete silence 4 minutes into Mirror Etched on Shards of Amethyst, building up tension along the way, eventually returns with breathy synths and droplets of noise. It doesn’t quite resolve the tension however, but merely constitutes a new variation that does eventually come to a resolution in the next phase, which is also the following song, Not Vital.
What becomes apparent after listening to the album a few times, is that Egyptrixx has retained some sense of that disparity that is inherent in his work, but where before it came in the form of noise and silence, it is now exploring the dichotomy between tension and serenity – or concussion and tranquility as the press release dictates – on a meta-narrative scale. Even Conduit [repo], which on the outset looks like a techno track develops into a grime-like percussive amalgamation of the variation, before falling again into the tranquil abyss that gave birth to the album. It’s evident why Night Slugs might have passed on the album. The full textures are something of a contrast to their stripped back minimalist sound, while the lack of dance floor accessible tracks might have been too obvious to ignore. I also understand why Psutka released this on his own newly established label. He had to retain the artistic freedom to get this album out in the form it was produced. Another label might have enjoyed tracks like Discipline 1982 and Conduit [repo], but might have requested more of the same for the rest of the album and thus the narrative would have been incomplete. The Transfer of Feelings [Feelings of Power] is the sum of its parts and those parts aren’t interchangeable. Egyptrixx might confuse a few hardened supporters that have grown accustomed to his work, but The Transfer of Feelings [Feelings of Power] should not be taken at face value and adequate time should be invested into listening to it, preferably undisturbed in its entity as the single entity it can only be.