If Basic Channel's iconic 1993-1994 run of albums was dub techno's moment of nuclear fission, then the isotope in question was crammed with such a dense range of assorted goodness than we can and should spend all day unpacking the stylistic breadth of its constituent parts as well as its combined impact. Translation: Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus did a lot in those years, and it's less a case of whittling their down to 'essential' releases as it is of appreciating an enjoyably diverse set of individual merits. That said, as on-board as I am with the Basic Channel releases that doubled down on their new style as a workable template (Octagon and Q1.1, both excellent), three albums stand out in particular as world-beating reimaginings of techno that could just about have carried the entire oeuvre by themselves: the original Phylyps Trak, still unparalleled on the propulsive end of the genre with its heavyweight kick and dense knot of delays, the legendary Quadrant Dub, a blend of dance music and expansive atmosphere so seamless that it was impossible to tell which side was doing the other more favours, and the duo's most abstract outing and last major statement before they jumped ship to Maurizio, Radiance.

Radiance is the point where the stabilisers fall off, where the wheels leave the ground entirely, where the beat – the grounding be-all-and-end-all of techno as an institution! – is no longer the crux of the track, but as an orbital a feature as any given as any dub squiggle or scribble. The two extended cuts "Radiance I" and "Radiance III" follow up on the experimental side of the duo's earlier "Lyot Rmx", adopting a decentralised approach where the track evolves not so much beat-by-beat as effect-by-effect; they operate in a vacuum where any element of the track can compete for central prominence, developing them so delicately, so sparsely that the upshot is a graceful weave rather than the muddled clutter "Lyot Rmx" momentarily fell into. Willfully disorienting as this is – this thing's spangled delays and successive waves of hiss and crackle wouldn't be half as captivating if they were anything but! – Basic Channel are masterful in how subtly they infuse these three tracks with approachable contours. "Radiance III" offers this in the form of a comparatively sturdy central groove, whereas "Radiance II" takes the opposite approach: perhaps the most gorgeous song the duo ever made, its ambience-first approach so aesthetically rich that one doesn't so much follow its patterns of delay as drift with them; the fact that this is offered to us as a four-minute skit rather than a full-length odyssey is arguably the record's greatest crime. However, the crown jewel of the album is surely "Radiance I" — this track is extraordinary for how it passes its rhythmic centre not only between different layers, but between different rates of delay, from chords to bass and back again, turning an intricate juggling act into a seemingly frictionless wash of overlapping currents. For my money, it's the most complex track Basic Track ever made, and it speaks volumes for Radiance as a whole that it also lands as one of their most effortlessly immersive pieces.

It took some time for this record's particular legacy to come to fruition: after wrapping up Basic Channel with the comparatively tame Phylyps Trak II, von Oswald and Ernestus jumped ship to Maurizio and scaled back from this approach, stripping the classic Basic Channel kick/off-beat bass combination down to its robust rhythmic core and testing the limits of how far they alone could support extended tracks. This proved a different kind of experiment that itself yielded astounding results (as per 1995's M4.5), but it wasn't until the likes of Vladislav Delay and Shinichi Atobe were released on the duo's label Chain Reaction that Radiance found its true heirs — and if those two artists in themselves are synonymous with a rich pedigree of ambient dub, minimal techno and spellbinding glitch, then perhaps some splinters of some atoms are particularly worth splitting.



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user ratings (43)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2024


61273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

1-hr review day #2. Probably the biggest grower in the BC discog for me (Radiance III really did not land the first time around), but now neck and neck with Quadrant Dub for my second favourite

Mort.
May 30th 2024


25810 Comments


hmmm this sounds up my street, got into a lot similar stuff last year

jrlikestodance
May 30th 2024


1440 Comments


I feel so dirty not digging into Basic Channel yet

myri14
May 30th 2024


228 Comments


Great EP album thing. I like that you compared it to other releases by the duo, then evaluated the tracks against each other and on their own. Great review!

Butkuiss
May 30th 2024


7334 Comments


Good artist good review

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2024


27809 Comments


My fav electronic 90s people

Ryus
May 30th 2024


37474 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the goats yea

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2024


27809 Comments


Fav in the classic style is the real dubby song…radiance…III…?…on BCD(-1). But fav all time shit by the boys (moritz is a descendant of Otto von Bismarck) is im your brother and new day by round one featuring Andy caine

Ryus
May 30th 2024


37474 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

im your brother is incredible for sure

the maurizio stuff is my favorite

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2024


61273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Domina (+Carl Craig mix) and M4.5 are up with the best, but Phylyps Trak is just the perfect dubby rager. No topping that

Jash
May 31st 2024


5054 Comments


The Rhythm & Sound record will forever be my favourite release of theirs, but Radiance II holds a special place in my heart.

normaloctagon
Contributing Reviewer
May 31st 2024


4148 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i salute you jotw

normaloctagon
Contributing Reviewer
May 31st 2024


4148 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pretty cool how the BC album covers resemble their discography's evolution eh : )

VlacDrac
May 31st 2024


2629 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. If only the Chain Reaction backlog got the same treatment as well.

Havey
May 31st 2024


12193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

radiance i has always been a top 3 BC for me



reviewer needs to stop ignoring the rhythm & sound stuff it's getting ridic

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2024


10307 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes lad excellent archive write up pick (he says having not yet heard this bc yet oops)

Pangea
May 31st 2024


10613 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks johnny i could use some techno while reading for work. love you

Trifolium
May 31st 2024


39367 Comments


Niiiiice Basic Channel love niiiiiice!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2024


61273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

must ignore rhythm must ignore sound pangea wtf is that rating

Pangea
May 31st 2024


10613 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like it but it doesn't quite connect to my techno taste :/ will give it a few more tries though!



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