Juan Atkins & Moritz von Oswald present Borderland Riod EP
Techno's founding fathers step back into the electric garden for Tresor's 25th anniversary.
Despite promising so much on paper, Borderland, the 2013 album by Juan Atkins (fondly known as The Originator) and Moritz von Oswald, forced an inward groan amongst many fans of the legendary producers. Critiqued as boring and repetitive, the duo came up against an unjust barrage of naysayers—a rabble that was amassed as a result of the weighty expectation surrounding any work by two of techno’s founding fathers. Standing as pillars in the hallowed Detroit-Berlin axis, individually they each carved out blueprints for future generations to follow (Atkins as part of the Belleville Three, and von Oswald in Basic Channel).
Reunited in the studio for an album that celebrates the 25th anniversary of another enduring institution, Tresor, it seems that (if the first single is anything to go by) the duo have pursued similar soundscapes. The original mix of “Riod” launches straight in with a hefty kick and shuffling hats—a bass-heavy number that definitely harks back to their last get together. It isn’t long before a typically ethereal Atkins synth line breezes over the percussion, set off with a jubilant machine-made fanfare. It’s a catchy tune, but little happens for the next eight or so minutes, rolling on and on with those same parts. On the B-side, the duo distance themselves slightly from the dancefloor, with a nuanced rendition of the original track. It plays around with the same components, but is far dubbier, dustier and more refined. Neither cut smacks of the same timeless appeal that runs through their producers’ back catalogs, but both are solid nonetheless, and show promise for the full-length later this year.