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Orphx – Radiotherapy review

Richard Oddie and Christina Sealey have been making music together for the best part of two decades, but despite having 10 albums to their credit, it is only in the last two years that the techno community became aware of Orphx’s magic. The reason for this is a series of EPs issued on Adam X’s Sonic Groove label that consisted of hypnotically dark, menacingly understated grooves. More club-focused than their previous works, Black Light and Traces in particular were inspired meetings of the duo’s abstract textures and an adherence to repetition that flowed with a uniquely addictive viscosity. So does their latest album make the leap into the techno sphere?

In many ways, Radiotherapy embodies what every techno album should strive for: rather than delivering a series of dance floor bangers, it sees Orphx focus on stepping rhythms, less direct than the Sonic Groove releases. But more importantly, it’s the duo’s exploration of texture that really impresses. “Compulsion” is a case in point; based on shuffling 808 drums, the visceral bass and eerie bleeps allow Orphx to provide their own take on old school electro. Blips and bleeps are also audible on “Radiotherapy 1”, but they are set to a droning soundscape so cold and alienating that it makes Throbbing Gristle sound like a bundle of laughs, while “Contamination” sees them tease out incendiary bass tones to a drizzling percussive backdrop.

At times, it’s almost too much, and the drilling noise on “Tensile” sounds like a patient having a tooth removed at the dentists. But this is only a minor digression and when Orphx’s cavernous, swarming acid, chilling strings and recoiling basslines take hold on “Lost Again” and “Radiotherapy 2”, such concerns fade into insignificance. With so many techno producers trying their hand at abstract sounds, it is ironic that one of the year’s best techno albums should come from industrial veterans.

Richard Brophy