Juan Atkins & Moritz Von Oswald - Borderland (3 stars)

Juan Atkins & Moritz Von Oswald - Borderland

Engaging, if slightly underwhelming release from two of techno’s most iconic figures


It’s something of an event when two of techno’s most iconic figures, Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald, join forces in the studio. Intriguingly, they’ve offered scant information regarding their motivations behind Borderland. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by its release: apparently the pair have spent the last two decades collaborating behind the scenes and it’s not the first time the results have seen the light of day. Atkins worked with Von Oswald and Thomas Fehlmann for their early 90s’ 3MB (Three Men in Berlin) project while Von Oswald later served as engineer on a number of tracks for the Detroit producer’s Model 500 alias.

Recorded over various sessions in Berlin, Borderland consists of eight sequences and draws on the backgrounds of both artists: Von Oswald as a former member of the groundbreaking Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound, and techno originator Atkins who last year signalled 30 genre-defining years with the release of his Model 500 single, ‘Closer’.

Merging drifting, spacey synths, a steady metronomic beat, floating snatches of brass and phased, digitised insect sounds, ‘Electric Garden’ (Jazz in the Garden Mix), seems to offer more of Atkins’ trademark flourishes, while Von Oswald’s influence appears slightly stronger on the morphing bass and stripped-back, disembodied bug calls of ‘Electric Dub’. With ‘Footprints’, there are undeniable similarities to Von Oswald’s Basic Channel output as crunching, clipped beats combine with echoing, tumbling synths, highlighting the Berliner’s ongoing dub-techno craft.

‘Electric Garden’ (Original Mix), offers a more percussive, rhythmic take on the track which in its earlier guise conjured up images of an intergalactic garden on some distant, undiscovered planet. ‘Treehouse’ is a swinging, jazz-techno jam, while ‘Mars Garden’ is a short, ‘Electric Garden’ offshoot. The cosmic synths and effects of ‘Digital Forest’ offers the best example of the Von Oswald-Atkins creative axis, while the beat-less, falling tones of ‘Afterlude’ draws an engaging, if slightly underwhelming release to a close.

Juan Atkins & Moritz Von Oswald - Electric Garden (Jazz In The Garden Mix)