Despite being a low-key artist, SW. has managed to elevate a niche genre to serious heights. Last year's Apollo reissue of Stefan Wust's 2016 Untitled album, an ambient-techno masterpiece, even managed to sneak onto Rolling Stone's 20 Best EDM and Electronic Albums of 2017 list.
Since then, Wust has continued working away on new sounds, and AMB1805, a collaboration between SW. and SUED labelmate SVN, is the latest result. It's a good complement to Untitled, but also offers up something different. The beats are for the most part heavier and less skittery, and that makes for a more accessible, club-ready interpretation of ambient techno than we heard on last year's long-play.
A trio of tracks — "dx n-lip," "la-400x" and "tx 77 hinten" — are on the heavier end of SW.'s sound spectrum. Alongside SVN, SW. channels deep '90s sounds ranging from dark grimy synths to drum&bass beats. By far, the most approachable is "la-400x"; a growling bass line relents for a moment to make way for summery rave keys, one of the high points of the six-song release.
Two beatless offerings, "10-10- nomix" and "11-10-17.1" create a bit of lag. The latter in particular would work better as the soundtrack to a melodrama, rather than a song on a German techno release. The sleepy "tr.rd." never quite gets off the ground, though the lush synths and hypnotic bass hint at a song that had potential.
Given the shorter length, it's tough to rate how AMB1805 stacks up to Untitled, the most notable release to date related to these acts. But AMB1805 is probably an even better gateway into the world of SW. and SVN for the uninitiated. (Apollo)