I Look Upon Nature While I Live in a Steel City by L’Estasi Dell’oro is one of the most hyperactive techno long players you’re ever likely to hear. The brainchild of American producer Christopher Ernst, the album ranges in sound from funereal ambient textures to raging industrial rhythms. It’s an artistic departure for both Ernst, who heretofore has focused on deep techno and ambient, and for Dutch imprint Field, whose split releases provide the platform for producers to make more introspective tracks than usual.
There is no sense that Ernst is holding back on I Look Upon Nature While I Live in a Steel City and opening track “Premeditating The First Gate” kick starts the release with a tough and frenetic acid-tinged rhythm, which gradually slows down before ending life as a deep and laid back groove. “Neue Bahnen” follows in the same vein as the opening track’s finale, with detached, eerie vocals unfolding over a dub techno groove. “I Know I Know” sees Ernst explore a similar mood, but this time the grayscale textures are beatless.
Soon enough afterwards, he explores a radically different mood on the distorted, acid-soaked techno of “Bit Back Straight Spine” a track so visceral and intense that it makes Gesloten Cirkel sound like a cookie cutter deep house newbie. This wild swing in moods is disorienting and this could be the reaction that Ernst is looking for; if that is his intention, he has certainly succeeded with this writer. “Did It Good”, with its swirling synths and mysterious, unraveling layers of sound, is exactly the kind of ambient techno that Field specialises in.
However, Ernst then delivers “A Much Updated Ruin From A Much Outdated Style” straight afterwards. Like AnD at their most unrelentingly brutal, its pumping, robot rhythms only give way for a series of swooping chords stabs. Experiencing it straight after “Did It Good” is akin to being cuddled tenderly and then kicked repeatedly in the face by a schizophrenic skinhead.
1. Premeditating The First Gate
2. Neue Bahnen
3. I Know I Know
5. Kingdom Of North America, Citizen’s Archival Recording #024
6. Bit Back Straight Spine
7. Did It Good
8. A Much Updated Ruin From A Much Outdated Style