Tracya - Mindflux (Album Review)

The Italian city of Padua is home to the oldest botanical gardens in the world and was the scene for Shakespeare's "The taming of the shrew". Such a connection to history may lead one to imagine its artists are still inspired by antiquity. However, as evidenced on "Mindflux" by Tracya, that is not the case. Tracya is a musical and visual arts project by an unnamed artist from Padua, now based in the capital of electronic music, Berlin. This reviewer spent considerable time trying to locate information on Tracya online, but any real name or musical history is nigh impossible to track down. Frustrating for a journalist, but it makes sense; Tracya creates mystical techno that seems to emerge from under concrete and towards the celestial.

 Tracya's recent album Mindflux is an atmospheric and ambient take on dance-floor-ready techno. While fewer decibels on the kick would've brought the atmospherics out more, allowing one to connect with the beguiling sounds happening underneath, the drums succeed in creating a grounding element to the unpredictable music to which movement, of at least the head, is unavoidable. Through colourful glitches, hazy synths, and hypnotic basslines, these songs are more tranquil and viscerally impactful than their danceable nature first suggests. 

Released on the Milan label 51beatsMindflux is intended as a soundtrack to an urban rain blurring the edges of neon lights, with the artist writing: "You manage to jump into a bus right after rain starts pouring on the quiet city. As it starts moving, you take out your headphones and play some tunes. The city's lights and the rain on the windshield create a blurred background." This atmosphere is indeed invoked in the searching and gorgeous sustains of the tunes, as well as the somewhat futuristic elements obtained by combining warm analogue equipment and samplers with "a long chain of effects". However, headphones are not the best way to appreciate this kick-heavy hardcore, and speakers reveal Tracya's original ideas of balance. This technically-weighed aspect of the music is likely the result of study, trial and error, and an ability to reach heightened states of mind via sonic crafting. 

In the opening track, "Shrine", Tracya builds a subtle and repeating bass line around scurrying drums and thoughtful touches, while on "Pulse+", he brings shimmering, jaded swells in and out of hardcore techno notions. "Culprit" is a euphoric and absorbing track which is easy to get lost in, and is perhaps the highlight of this 25-minute, five-track album. Elsewhere "The Frustration of the Z" features contemplative pad work, and the ordinarily dry drums have been flavoured with spacey thrills. Whereas the title track closes the album with waterfall delays and gentle voicings, worldbuilding a city submerged in the rain at night, its technological wonders are softened by space and the movement of the earth's natural rhythm. 

Mindflux is an enjoyable, often transportive, listen from a producer who works at the extremes of the techno and ambient spectrum. This results in a dichotomous mood where the thrill comes with the chill, and focused musical ideas are executed without repose.