Jeff Mills said nearly a decade ago that techno is being made for an aging audience. Regardless of whether this is true or not, what happens when the artists themselves start to get older – can they maintain their relevance? In the case of Mark ‘Claro Intelecto’ Stewart, the answer to this conundrum is simple; go back to your roots.
The Manchester producer may have settled down, but creatively, Second Blood shows that he’s as dynamic as ever. “Heart” marks a return to the first Claro Intelecto album, Neurofibro or the more understated sections of its successor, Metanarrative, with an atmospheric, ambient soundtrack gently unfolding, populated by muffled, half-heard vocals. The title track sees Stewart pick up the pace, but although the underlying bassline has a dark, resonating edge to it, the tempo is sluggish and the chords flutter about in a way that suggests the producer is seeking to tease out new directions for his sub-heavy techno.
“Voyeurism” has no such ambitions, but sounds all the better for it; like the best tracks from the Warehouse Sessions series, its bass plays the central role, a fathomic, all-encompassing series of tones that steers the plaintive melodies on an irresistibly evocative path. Sometimes to stay ahead of the curve, you first need to take a few steps back.