Artefakt - Days Bygone

Nick Lapien and Robin Koek have earned plenty of stripes exploring different strains of techno and electronica, both individually and together as Artefakt. It is their collaborative work which has found a natural home on Delsin, and now their second album on the label, Days Bygone, helps launch the Interstellar series as they continue to explore beyond the dancefloor trappings of conventional techno.

If their 2017 debut album Kinship married forthright techno dynamics with a mellow, melancholic sensibility and 2019’s Monsoon saw them heading into deeper, meditative rhythms, then Days Bygone finds Artefakt leaning even further away from standard structures to create an album steeped in mystery. It’s not a formless ambience they’ve conjured up though – pronounced patterns are still prevalent to propel Artefakt’s productions, but there’s less emphasis on percussion and more time spent shaping soundworlds with nimble arps and gliding pads.

There is still space for beats on Days Bygone, but as on ‘Orinoco Basin’ those drums fall in fluttering formations to gently buffet languid keys rather than imposing on the direction of the music. The heaviest they get is on the dense, swinging ‘Terraforming’, but it’s a light-footed configuration compared to a trad-techno thump, with the drums serving as another texture in conversation with the elements surrounding them.

Because of the shifted focus away from hegemonic beats, it’s left to the keys and pads to define the landscape each track traverses. Sometimes furtive and suggestive, elsewhere pearlescent and diffused across great expanses, it’s these striking, sublime formations which define the atmosphere Lapien and Koek have sought to create. The outright ambience of the closing double act pushes this idea to a logical conclusion, leaving the possibilities open for what comes next from Artefakt.

Artwork by Raymond Lemstra.


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