One of the great things about Detroit techno is the way it has spawned sister-city scenes across the world. Berlin and Amsterdam are the most notable, but Vienna also has been an outpost for Motor City styles, especially when it comes to twitchy, live-wire electro. In the late 1990s, the cities felt connected as if by a transatlantic aquabahn, as Detroit labels like Adult.'s Ersatz Audio and Ectomorph's Interdimensional Transmissions traded artists and ideas with Vienna's Sabotage and Craft imprints.
It was through that nexus that I discovered Austria's Epy, back around '97-'98, but I should hasten to add that Epy have never been strictly an electro-revivalist act. Even on early releases, their synthesizers had a queasy, digitalist sheen that didn't square with electro-funk's analog orthodoxy, and, on records like their fine 2002 album ~Ahead of the Wav, their glitched and broken beats had as much to do with Autechre and Gescom as they did with Drexciya or Jonzun Crew.
Six years since Epy's last release, they return to Vienna's TRUST label — home to experimental electro from Urban Tribe, Clatterbox, Patrick Pulsinger, et al. — with a free, six-track EP of new and unreleased material. (It's billed as a "mixtape," but, in fact, it's six separate tracks.) The first two cuts sound like archive material: "Squimp" is lo-fi and sticky as gum on hot pavement, while "Players at the Game of People" might qualify as a kind of cosmic G-funk, or a cybernetic mothership connection. "Mellow Out" starts off similarly spindly, but it gradually opens up into dubby auroras recalling the hypermodern jazz of Burnt Friedman's Con Ritmo. "Swingin Through" and "Universal Scratch" both up the jazz quotient; the former reminds me a little of Roman Flügel and Christopher Dell's 2005 album Superstructure, a bizarre amalgam of beat-down house and free-improv xylophones. They close out the EP with "Discopunk," a mid-tempo techno-jazz number that manages to be gritty and ethereal all at once.
Sample all six in the SoundCloud player below, and download the complete EP for free here. TRUST's next official release, from newcomer vc-118a, ventures into darker, more cavernous electro-techno terrain; it comes out July 9.