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Live Review: Rings Around Saturn presents a journey of abstract techno with his self-titled LP

11 February 2019 | 4:57 pm | Max Lewis

The first full-length longplayer from Melbourne Producer Rings Around Saturn is a contemplative and dense exploration of left-field techno.

Prolific Melbourne producer RINGS AROUND SATURN aka Rory McPike has dropped his first full-length LP via UK label brokntoys. On his first LP, McPike presents an 11-track odyssey into abstract analogue techno, with enough scattered beats, acidic loops and dreamy ambience to satisfy warehouse-rave connoisseurs and bedroom head-boppers alike.

Rings Around Saturn has been producing prime left-field techno cuts since 2015, releasing two cassettes, a 12" and one CDR (the most experimental medium of them all) that year alone. His work is characterised by long-form, analogue worshipping techno that weaves between evocative ambience and acidic, house-adjacent bangers, often within the one track. His self-titled LP is no different, with a perfect mix of woozy soundscapes with crisp four-to-the-floor magic.

Establishing the analogue-goodness right off the bat, 'Saturnine' is a perfect introduction with its wavering arpeggios and soaring pads. 'Pulp Tech' pounds with an almost industrial beat and acidic bass before what sounds like a malfunctioning Volca Keys (in a good way, of course) takes over. 'Apocalypse Lite' sees booming 808 sounds mixing with menacing bass loops before dreamy pads and esoteric percussion create an ambient counterpoint.

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Probably the centrepiece of the album, 'Event Strike' is a long journey condensed into seven minutes of tech-house goodness, with staccato bass and phased percussion leading a crescendo into a contemplative pad loop and layered soundscapes. 'Perfect Crime' sees micro-percussion pave the way to far-away pad layers and warbled, alien sounding synth hooks. Reverb-soaked keys and lo-fi video game sound effects dominate 'Online Spectre' before a wall of spacey analogue hooks take over. 'World Interior' is a gorgeous ambient interlude reminiscent of Wolfgang Voigt, with a barely audible kick driving a sea of harmonising synth arpeggios. 'Uncanny Soul' continues the more ambient vibe with an abstract percussion sample and a kick + snare combo that filters in and out between sidechained pads and layered effects.

'Automatic Memory', the final long-form banger, starts small with crisp percussion and a spacey loop that weaves around the mix, before extra layers build up and the track transforms into a woozy, pad heavy behemoth. The closer 'Non Place' ends the experience as it began, with an ambient soundscape of dreamy blips and bloops rising in and out of reverb fog.

With his self-titled full length, Rings Around Saturn creates techno that demands your attention. As much as its designed to get lost in, there's so many elements at play within each given track that every listen can feel like a unique experience if you focus on different elements. It's as much of a sit-down-and-think record as it is a get-up-and-dance one, and it shows that Rings Around Saturn can remain captivating no matter the medium.

Photo via Facebook

Words by MAX LEWIS