Published Nov 27, 2018Barcelona-based producer and Classicworks co-founder Luis Garban has been releasing various strains of techno as Cardopusher for over a decade now. Muscle Memory, his latest EP, offers up a couple of fairly forgettable demonstrations of his recent acid-techno leanings before settling into a more interesting mix of styles on its satisfying remainder. Those more fond of his earlier work will find that he continues to move away from that sound, however.
"Regress to Nowhere" and "Into the Motion," the two acid tracks that open the album, are frankly perfunctory affairs that finish just as they start without doing much in between, beyond the usual ebb and flow — the kind of innocuous tracks a DJ throws on to buy some time while he searches for something more exciting. It's a bit of a sweet relief then when sinister, mid-tempo techno cut "Sewer Escape" begins with nary an acid squiggle. This and the title track sound like they could have easily been lifted from Manipulator, his 2015 full-length, offering up more of the same, for better or worse.
Things get more memorable toward the EP's end, when Garban indulges his industrial side with the mid-tempo stomp of "Leaving." Its giant snare and hypnotic bass draw you in immediately, and the guest vocal from Ivy Barkakati lends the track some welcome personality — something Muscle Memory could often use more of, frankly. And then the album ends with the almost sunny bounce of "Nambu Line Dub," a deep house track that caps off the EP nicely, if unexpectedly.
It all amounts to an odd and not wholly satisfying grab-bag, and although it highlights Garban's versatility somewhat, we are still very much working from the dour Manipulator playbook of traditional techno sounds, as opposed to the more playful, open-ended horizons of his earlier work. Whether or not the darker palette he's chosen of late is superior remains yet to be seen. (Dark Entries)