Environ-Mental

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Next-wave techno renaissance man Dale Lawrence is an über-hip Web designer-illustrator by day and the one-man ambient techno band Theorem (the only other artist on techno giant Richie Hawtin’s M_nus label) by night. On this first full-length compilation of Theorem’s 12" single releases over the last year, Lawrence proves himself a reverent and, better still, competent successor to the moody, patient, headphone techno favored by the likes of Kenny Larkin and Carl Craig over the past five years. Lawrence’s MO is to build a mood, not play it, which is why he prefers dub-softened drum sounds and long, room-temperature synth washes to make his tracks as textural as they are musical – as the binary-dub of the opening "Debris" evidences with its plush, gray electronic funk. Likewise, the long groove-cruise of "Shift" sounds like a cuddletech era update of Carl Craig’s near-epic "Landcruising" record, with its engine rumbles and its cozy-but-invigorated autobahn-meets-I-696 vibe.

But where Ion as a whole really shines, in its quietly glowing way, is in showcasing the album-spanning range of Lawrence’s minimal-yet-full production touch, a quality not as discernible in its original 12" installments. Certainly a bedroom producer-student of early Brain Eno, and not too far from the Plastikman effects-rack experiments of Consumed, Lawrence is the missing link between Detroit’s third wave and techno’s outward-not-upward future. More importantly, he makes music you can listen to an album’s worth at a time and don’t have to be a DJ to appreciate. Destined for late night play on WDET, and proud of it.

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