Upfront 024 / May 18, 2015


100% exclusive (bar one rediscovered nineties obscurity) and 100% hypnotic, this mix by the Delft / Valence label boss is all about strobelit, smoky techno timelessness.

About this mix

Delft and Valence are siblings with distinct personalities. Like siblings do, they sometimes argue over who gets what, and occasionally compete for attention but they have their own paths.

Delft is a techno label with acid tendencies, while Valence is a warehouse techno junkie with wandering eyes and a taste for equal parts weirdness and crunch.

Delft is represented here by squad members JPLS, whose EP will arrive in the fall, and Vin Sol whose 4-track EP will be on record shelves in the coming weeks. Valence leaves its mark through coming EPs from goldFFinch and Ambivalent, as well as a remix from Truncate and a special extra deep dive with a major influence.

The Ambivalent material here is destined for both Valence and Josh Winks Ovum, as well as a remix for my buddy Truncates label. There are also some collaborations with Matrixxman, their destination is as yet undetermined.


Boiler Room says...

In the eternal cycles of techno, there are certain stable zones, particular patterns that seem to work regardless of what micro- or macro-trends might be shifting around them. And Kevin McHugh - aka L4-4A, aka Ambivalent - seems to be, record-by-record, set-by-set, finding his way into one of those zones.

A list of the labels he's released on - Ovum, Cocoon, Mobilee, and Minus - suggests someone who might just be about the big room, about big and obvious mainstream techno gestures. But with each move he makes, and particular through his Delft and Valence labels, Ambivalent shows that he's about something a bit more subtle, a bit more timeless, a bit more about the real lost moments of the dancefloor than about lasers and huge crowds.

At the heart of it all is acid house, with its confidence in simplicity, and constant modulation preventing anything ever settling into locked-grooves or too-obvious riffing. In fact, this mix is light on the 303s and 101s compared to a lot of McHugh's sets recently, rather leaning towards the metallic chords of Detroit, but structurally and spiritually it remains acid to the core: even when it starts going hard it's completely dedicated to that classic body-trip hypnosis.

For all that it hits a timeless groove, though, this is 100% new and unreleased material... bar one unnamed track which is apparently an unearthed gem by an underground legend from 1997. Something about this gesture of seamlessly blending one little window to the past into fresh work by artists working on the club frontline now demonstrates perfectly what Ambivalent is about. In this 4am techno interzone, retro and future are no longer opposites...

Joe Muggs

Joe Muggs

Joe is a key Boiler Room contributor. As well as years of freelance writing, he has been a compiler, curator and compere, and he drinks a lot of tea.