Chevel – Elvine Unlocked Review

Dario ‘Chevel’ Tronchin may be Italian, but his music bleeds British and German DNAs, both for sonic resemblances and compositional attitude. It has the former’s penchant for deconstructing club tropes as seen in IDM and, recently, in weightless grime; and the latter’s surgical, perhaps even detached, precision and formal austerity.

It’s no coincidence that, apart from running his own Enklav label, Chevel has released his previous albums on heady-techno stalwarts like Non Series and Stroboscopic Artefact, and he’s been the first artist to release a full-length on Different Circles aka the first label to officially grace the electronic music world with the term weightless. Always Yours already introduced Chevel as the ‘heaviest’ sounding producer among the weightless circle set up by Mumdance and Logos. Sharing their general ethos but giving it a wider breadth, the Treviso-born artist showed that recurrent kicks and snares and bleeps can be weightless as well if treated in the right way.

He’s back now with Elvine Unlocked, shuffling the cards again. While Always Yours was colorful yet severe and heady, Elvine Unlocked casts formal rigidity aside, widening sonic sources even more. It’s symptomatic that the EP is released on his own label, as if it were a private diary of where he’s at now. And he’s in a position of total confidence over disparate influences and mastery of the art of production. When it comes to the dilemma – because in the electronic scene it almost always comes to that – if it’s stuff for the body or the mind, for the dancefloor or your overpriced headphones, Chevel doesn’t succumb to easy categorization nor confines himself to any single style. Elvine Unlocked offers six electronic excursions covering the middle ground between private immersive listening and collective dancefloor enjoyment.

The title track is exemplar: with its stripped-down electro embellished with alien vocals, bass pressure and day-glo synths, it falls somewhere in the middle of a hypothetic trinity comprised of Dam-Funk’s electronic funk, future garage vivaciousness, and the typical Mumzie/Logos firmness. And talking about not sticking to easy formulas, think of “Cut” and how it blends techno, electro and UK bass, shapeshifting restlessly in just three minutes. Also, the ultra HD quality of much weightless grime is sometimes escaped: “Swamp” and “Knickerbocker” indulge in distortions and sound like industrial music captured through Kodachrome films.

Sure, you’ll find the insistence on sonic space and voids you’re probably expecting from him – the opener “Fed Enough” is trademark weightless ambience. But there’s a lot more going on in and around those spaces. Beats and patterns flow one after the other in a playful way. Playful, but not light-hearted, as Chevel creatively defies strict genre boundaries and hovers above hybrid areas. Indeed, “Late Bloomer” may almost be considered cyborg R&B going nuts, balancing melodic synths and gritty drums, stasis and chaos.

While his previous albums may seem like thorough excavations on a restricted sonic and conceptual palette, Elvine Unlocked feels more like a carefree personal experiment not burdened by the unsaid tenets which often underlie albums.

Sculpted with surgical precision, Chevel’s beats sound synthetic but not as glacially abstract as in the past. If they nod to a certain alien-like quality, it’s that of bringing aliens down to earth’s surface – possibly in a weird warehouse party – and stopping them floating in the space-void continuum.

 

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