After nine years delving through nearly every extremity of the dance music spectrum, Kevin McAuley, AKA Pangaea, has finally assembled his eccentric works into his first full long-player.

Pangaea, who first sprung onto the underground scene back in 2007 with his debut Coiled 12”, has celebrated a selection of uncustomary releases on Hessle Audio, Hemlock Recordings, and his own Hadal label; experimenting with dub, techno, and jungle frameworks.

Following Pearson Sounds debut LP on Hessle last year, co-founder McAuley set out to express his own artistic idiosyncrasies in only the second full release on the label. ‘In Drum Play’ encapsulates these perfectly, with wonky, LFO-laden bass cuts that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Hessle release, entwined with the dynamic, jerky techno that is regularly exhibited in a Pangaea DJ set.

This back and forth mechanism is apparent throughout the album, shifting between hard-hitting 4×4 club bangers and breaky dub techno bliss. Opening track ‘Mutual Exchange’ accustoms itself to the latter, with a mixture of bouncy synths and ludicrous scratching sounds, similar to those made when bending a sheet of metal, forming an adventurous yet somehow still coherent composition.

‘Rotor Soap’, a track brimming with effervescence, jumps straight into the club for what can only be described as a carnival on pills. Springy, warehouse vibes highlight McAuley’s intrepid side, demonstrating the weird and wonderful sounds that can be incorporated into techno while still tearing up a dancefloor. Like Pearson Sound’s ‘XLB’, which was released July 26 of this year, ‘Rotor Soap’ displays the fun that unconventional, buoyant techno can bring to the club; an approach that both Hessle label-mates appear to have adopted as of late.

Image: Brian Whar
Image: Brian Whar

Indulging back into the Pangaea of old is ‘Bulb In Zinc’, a track which pays homage to the beautiful Wob bass so frequently used in his early releases. Stationing at around the 126bpm mark, the track adopts elements of the UK techno/bass being pushed by the likes of Swamp81 and Livity Sound, but, of course, with a typical McAuley twist. Old school house chords and a series of sharp percussion appear infrequently throughout the track, shifting the focus from Wob bass dub to intense club builder for mere seconds at a time; an expertly produced piece of noise on the whole.

Leaping back towards energetic club bangers are singles ‘More Is More To Burn’ and ‘One By One’. The former weaves a typical 4×4 bass with a vast array of African percussion, complemented by chopped, groaning vocals and piercing, 8-bit synths that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nintendo 64 racing game. Similarly, in ‘One By One’, chopped female vocals dominate the track, with aggressive breaks and orchestra style chords intensifying its progression. Featured on Mixmag’s Gold, a series dedicated to the DJs and producers who are making the strongest waves within dance music, ‘One By One’ captures the sheer elegance in McAuley’s productions, underlining his overall versatility as an artist.

As the LP transitions into its final few tracks, there are certainly no signs of plateauing. ‘Lofty Can’, which alludes to McAuley’s experimental production style through the aptly repetitive ‘trial and error’ vocal sample, features even more breakbeat techno goodness. A persistent, relaxing synth horn blares away in the background as glitchy vocals dominate the foreground, generating two ways to listen to this beautifully constructed track, depending on which element you commit your attention to.

Pangaea is nothing short of a genius in the underground scene; ‘In Drum Play’ epitomises him as both a producer and a performer, lending attributes from all aspects of his work to date. From dub techno head boppers to dancefloor monsters, the nine-year wait for Pangaea’ first full album has most certainly not been in vain.

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