Feature Review : Into the gifted mind of a Techno genius

Artist : Lee Van Dowski
Title : Cerca Trova
Label: Mobilee
Release : 26th February 2016
Genre : Electronic

Shapeshifting French producer Lee Van Dowski drops his first album in 10 years with ‘Cerca Trova’, a career triumph work spanning ambient techno, breaks and beyond. The LP’s title, translates as ‘Search or Find’ and like the name, sees the Swiss-based artist digging deep into his musical repertoire. The 14-track work harks back to his diverse musical roots, when an initial passion for techno soon led the artist into more experimental territory with the likes of Autechre, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Richard Devine and Otto Van Schirach fuelling his musical obsession. In a somewhat reflective mood, the father of two believes his greatest legacy, is to leave a sonic footprint his children would be proud of.

Since his last artist album ‘As Told On The Eve Of…’ with Quenum released in 2006 on Soma Records, Lee has been challenging himself to create a narrative beyond the dance floor, the results are mind blowing. An artist reborn since joining Anja Schneider’s Mobilee Records in 2013, the album follows on from Lee’s outstanding past 12 months that saw him drop releases on Cocoon, Bedrock, Suara, Rebellion (sub-label of Crosstown Rebels), This and That and of course Mobilee, home to ‘050504’, one of the year’s biggest techno tracks.

Anyone who has paid even cursory attention to Lee’s productions over the years will agree the expansive palette of sounds the Frenchman has explored through his work, which although diverse, flows smoothly from one multi-layered moment to the next. From the glitchy stylings of opening track ‘Creating Me’, to the equally beguiling and dreamy ambient collaboration with old friend Caroline Hervé (aka Miss Kittin), that was created after they spent a weekend in the mountains with Lee’s kids, the producer sets about building a creative and cohesive trip across 70 minutes. No mean feat for many a dance music producer, who tend to collect together their latest dance floor friendly tracks and book end them with ‘something experimental and different’.

Track 4, Au Minimum, with its wonky bass arrangement and wistful strings raises Van Dowski from merely a great producer, to that of a savant composer whose multi layered mind is reflected with a keenness and deft touch in his treatment of this oddly likeable chill out track. Then theres ‘1+1’; a grand, orchestral breakbeat-driven cut awash with strings and vocal harmonies which could easily be mistaken for a something Sasha might have found on the cutting room floor circa the Involver years. Which sets us up for the evocative ‘Repli Tactique’; an intoxicating, if infuriatingly complex, wall of sound driven by rich Flamenco-style guitar licks.

Lee shifts the momentum up another gear for the stunning electro breaks of ‘The One’. The delightful ‘Dans Tes Yeux’ is five minutes of pure, driving breakbeat euphoria, before the tempo is taken into gritty acid techno territory with ‘Toran’. To close, he then brings us down again with the beautiful left of centre title track ‘Cerca Trova’ and delicate piano-laden concluder ‘Sinon Toi’.

As the last track chimes out, I’m left with a sense of euphoria; a spiritual calmness. Its an honest, heart felt, and deeply personal album covering a vast array of styles, influences and tempos, but ultimately, pure undiluted Lee Van Dowski. I’ve no doubt in believing your kids are incredibly proud Lee. This is simply stunning from start to finish.

Pre order your copy here.

1. Lee Van Dowski – Creating Me
2. Lee Van Dowski – I.L.A.N.E.N.O feat. Miss Kittin
3. Lee Van Dowski – Awaken
4. Lee Van Dowski – Au Minimum
5. Lee Van Dowski – Phenix
6. Lee Van Dowski – Gy6z2
7. Lee Van Dowski – 1+1
8. Lee Van Dowski – Alekhine’s Defense
9. Lee Van Dowski – Repli Tactique
10. Lee Van Dowski – The One
11. Lee Van Dowski – Dans Tes Yeux
12. Lee Van Dowski – Toran
13. Lee Van Dowski – Cerca Trova
14. Lee Van Dowski – Sinon Toi

Lee will also feature heavily in the Mobilee Back to Back Tour 2016

Feb 27: ZÜRICH (CH) Hive Club w/ Lee Van Dowski, Rodriguez Jr., Re.You
Mar 9: PARIS (FR) Rex w/ Lee Van Dowski, Re.You
Mar 11: TEL-AVIV (IR) Bootleg Club w/ Anja Schneider, Gel Abril
Mar 12: BERLIN (DE) Watergate w/ Lee Van Dowski, Anja Schneider, Gel Abril, Ray Okpara, And.ID (live), Igor Vicente
Mar 18: ANTWERP (BE) Cafe d’Anvers w/ Lee Van Dowski, Anja Schneider, Igor Vicente
Mar 27: BARCELONA (ES) w/Lee Van Dowski, Re.You