Morristown’s Josh Stephens on Deetron’s ‘Balance 020’

Deetron- Balance 020

By Josh Stephens

Over the past few years, Switzerland’s Deetron has developed into one of techno’s icons.  While he has released several genre-defining pieces over the past few years including his runaway train remix of Gregor Tresher and Guy Gerber’s “Open the Gates” for Great Stuff as well as his landmark original production “Collide” for Joris Voorn’s Green label, this identity does not sufficiently capture Deetron’s dynamic essence.  On Balance 020, he has crafted an eclectic yet brilliantly cohesive two disc artistic statement.  The first was mixed digitally using Cubase and Wavelab software and the second utilized three vinyl turntables and an Allen & Heath mixer.  

Deetron- Balance 020

Autechre’s visionary 1994 release “Nine” provides a widescreen, cinematic vista to open Digital CD 1.  A sparkling loop of Model 500’s “Infoworld” gives way to the atmospheric deep vibes of Julio Bashmore’s “Craboon.”  The techy stabs build as the bassline of the Unabombers’ Detroit techno remix of Shit Robot – “Losing My Patience” seizes control.  The vocals of the remix are then sliced and diced as the rising arpeggios and the triumphant bassline of BNJM’s “Rush Hour” burst through in glorious fashion.  The set takes a detour into grittier, less melodic terrain by including trippy offerings from DJ KOZE and the enigmatic Ricardo Villalobos.  The mix rinses out with the soothing piano of Move D’s “Your Personal Healer” before the spacious synths of Todd Terje’s second offering “Ragysh” provide a moment of clarity. 

Deetron’s inspired transition from “Ego,” an otherworldly collaboration between Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Burial, and Four Tet, into the gritty funk of Maceo Plex’s “You and Me” is an example of “the endless possibilities the digital world has to offer.”  Long after the beats of “You and Me” enter, the ornate piano denouement of “Ego” reemerges, and the two tracks bleed together seamlessly.  Deetron provides a bit of an interlude in the form of the sublime ambience of Lawrence’s “Above the Sky” and the spacey, acidic oddness of Caribou’s Virgo Four remix.  The addition of the stomping staccato strings of Mr. Beatnik’s “Synthetes” creates new urgency within the Virgo Four track.  Zaki Ibrahim’s sultry vocals bring the mix to a luxuriously comfortable resting place on LV and Message to Bears– “Explode.”  Deetron pulls the tempo way down as he reintroduces Model 500’s “Infoworld” and in the process creates a meditative, introspective finale to the session.  The glacial tones of “Pioneer IOO” by Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto are layered beneath the skittery keys of Andy Stott’s “Tell Me Anything” which ultimately gives way to the twistedly playful but maybe unnecessary “Heart Begin to Beat” by Savage Progress

Analog CD 2 doesn’t possess the patience of the first disc.  The mixing is aggressive and the techno-fueled energy is relentless.  Deetron uses the first few tracks to quickly ratchet up the tension until the piano line of fellow Swiss producer Ripperton’s “Sweet Illusions” blends into the deep groove of Ame’s Osunlade remix.  Deetron’s own production “Croque” pushes the mix higher with its punishing bassline and windy, flanging percussion.  Deetron rips through a series of take-no-prisoners bottom heavy bombs before cooling things off a bit with Reggie Dokes’s summery “Haiti.”  The second half of the mix is a tour de force through driving, melodic techno.  The gravely textures of Four Tet’s “Pinnacles,” strobing vocal pulses of Simon Garcia’s jazzy freakout “Tears in Vain,” and the claustrophobic bubbling synths of Cosmin TRG’s “Fizic” each have their moment until Deetron’s edit of Radio Slave’s “Let it Rain” crashes to earth.  Lights out.  Gradually bringing the set to a boil while never losing sight of soulful, melodic elements is a delicate art, and Deetron pulls it off masterfully here.  “Collide” is an incendiary opus that draws this relentless mix to a close in exhilarating, explosive fashion. 

With Balance 020, Deetron transcends the digital vs. vinyl debate simply by mastering both formats.  There is no need to pick a side.  The compilation demonstrates how both technologies are equally valid forms of communication in that both can be used to share a love and a passion for music.

9 out of 10

Click here to sample Digital CD1.

Click here to sample Analog CD2.

Josh Stephens
Josh Stephens


Check out his previous reviews of artists like M83, Bon Iver, and Radiohead on



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