Recording information: Berlin. (2015).
Transport is the second collaboration between the duo of Detroit's Juan Atkins and Berlin's Moritz von Oswald, two of techno's most innovative, influential figures. The release follows 2013's Borderland, which they've adopted as their project name. Transport coincides with the 25th anniversary of Tresor, Berlin's legendary vault-turned-nightclub established after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The club's label, Tresor Records, has issued hundreds of impeccable recordings, and both the club and the label have been crucial in cementing the connection between the Detroit and Berlin techno scenes. Atkins and von Oswald initially collaborated with Thomas Fehlmann (of the Orb) for 1992's 3MB Feat. Magic Juan Atkins, and while that album consisted of ecstatic club tracks, their work as Borderland seems more laid-back and meditative. Transport's seven tracks are hypnotic, expansive, and unforced, with both artists seeming very comfortable in the studio. The tracks definitely inhabit the minimal side of the spectrum, with brief, repetitive phrases rather than grand, expressive melodies, but they're constantly moving and evolving, and every slight change or flourish makes an impact on the overall sound. Everything seems to be composed on analog gear in real time, and even if they're not going for an ecstatic rush, the music feels alive and breathing rather than clinical or boring. The opening title track is little more than a dubby pulse, and while the following "Odyssey" has a ticking beat, its calmly percolating synths and occasional echo effects are still more contemplative than dancefloor-bound. "Lightyears" is where the propulsive 4/4 beat kicks in, and from there on, the shimmering, sparse tracks are perfect for a late-night cross-country drive. "2600" folds some acid synths into its waves of reverb, and "Merkur" (the album's shortest track by far, at only four minutes) has a galloping electro beat and bright, restrained synths. Perhaps best of all is the album's first single, "Riod," a sublime night-cruiser that fits nicely into both artists' respective canons. Transport is simply a natural, smoothly flowing collaboration between two legends. ~ Paul Simpson