Temperature Falls’ latest album, ‘Protagonist’, blows technical waves of colour over high vocals and heavy bass to create a sound that stands by itself amongst the indie/new wave techno scene. Its cascading lyrics mixed with maximum arpeggio lead the sound to fold, over and over on itself, it gains layers of complexity and flavour as it does this, the album goes on and the complexity of the songs builds, in expression and construction. This is not mindless techno-rave music. It's well thought out and cared for every step of the way and you can feel that in the bite, in the throw, in the drop. You can also dance hard to it, which makes it even better, but it goes deeper, and that’s what makes it great.
The album opens with a sound, it’s expressive and alive and it showcases the signature flavour that Temperature Falls have given to ‘Protagonist’. ‘Apology’ sighs to action. The sound is bright at first but then the bass kicks the whole vibe down a notch and we’re greeted with a sparkling twisted night-scape. It's rich and tonal and the perfect foundation for the vocals and other synths to climb on. It works to build us up slowly. First the bass, then adornments followed by a dropping back of the bass as the vocals join in with some guitar-like sounds and strings. When the bass drops back in it all mixes and blends and this goes on, layering, adapting. It's very well done as it allows you to pinpoint every sound as it comes at you. Differing from the following song, ‘Hide’ which is bass heavy but uses a rock tone, it's a great contrast to the very techno open of ‘Apology’.
‘Please Don’t Go’ shows Temperature Falls smoother side. It's warm, pulsing in a slower tide pool. The percussion livens it up but it's almost soulful. It sits apart from its predecessors in tone and it adds a lot of variety to the album which is nice to see in a techno offering. ‘Reach’ has the same feel, melodic and funky in its foundation. It's especially noticeable in ‘I Am Different’ where the tone is bright and open from the beginning. It twists and turns and mixes the two sides of ‘Protagonist’ as it plays out, it is the meeting point of the two musical ideologies on the album and it works, proving that techno can say a lot more tonally when it is in the right hands.
The album has some heavy-hitting tracks on it that could stand out as singles in their own right, songs like ‘Reach’, ‘Moment Of Loneliness’ and ‘Run Away’. They all gain a lot, however, from being assembled in this album. ‘Protagonist’ is questioning the direction of techno music, especially indie-techno. Where most of the offerings that come out of this space are dark, heavy and grimy, Temperature Falls has chosen to add some brightness to their sound. They do it slowly and add drops as the album goes on, it's planned, and it shows they care about the album as a whole, being listened to in one sitting which I highly recommend you do. It showcases a possible evolution of the techno sound, one that I find endlessly refreshing. The first song on the track embodies the entire album. Here is our sound, broken down into pieces and built right before you. Now, when we add a little of this, a little of that. Bam. Heavy-hitting techno dance tracks that don’t have to punch your gut and snarl. They too can dance in the moonlight by the bay, taking in lunar rays and lighting neon torches. ‘Protagonist’ questions whom the main character in techno has to be, is it dark, or light?
I pick both.