How would one best describe Scuba‘s new album Claustrophobia? I’m sitting here staring at the thesaurus entries for “dark” and “heavy” because they’re overused terms when it comes to describing techno and frankly, don’t quite encompass how dark and heavy this album is. The best way I can think to describe it is Trent Reznor on his darkest day feeling a sudden urge to delve into techno, and that still probably couldn’t muster up what Scuba has produced here. Drawing heavy inspiration from his experience at the Japanese techno festival Labyrinth back in 2014, Scuba has crafted an album that is intense and haunting.
The album’s first track “Levitation” sets the tone for most of the album, with its use of eerie sounding wind chimes against reverbed claps that progressively get louder through the song as if something is slowly approaching. It’s the type of song you’d expect to hear in the soundtrack of a suspense thriller as the protagonists are making an escape for their lives or examining clues to unlock a bone-chilling mystery. The track that follows, “Why You Feel So Low,” is unsurprisingly the album’s first single. With its thumping kick drum, light high hat and shimmering synths, I don’t doubt for a second this will end up in a Richie Hawtin set. Other tracks that follow its lead as beat-thumping techno tracks are “PCP” and “Black On Black,” while tracks like “Drift” and “All I Think About Is Death” use more subtle, brooding beats as the background to melodic strings and piano. “All I Think About Is Death,” in particular, is the only track that comes close to utilizing traditional vocals, which are echoed against shattering glass and a single piano key beat. Then there’s “Needle Phobia,” blending a lurking bassline with dainty piano keys and a reverberated clap beat to create a sound that is both beautiful and melancholy.
All together, Scuba has created a soundtrack that is intense, gorgeous, and, yes, deep. The journey he takes you on is at times terrifying and yet beautiful. Claustrophobia is definitely a must listen for all true techno fans.
Claustrophobia is available to stream via Resident Advisor‘s Soundcloud page and is also available for purchase today.