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Roswell Return - Probe


SD Records

“Probe” belongs to that peculiar and esoteric group - techno albums that aren’t specifically dancefloor-orientated. It joins Donato Dozzy’s “K” as another fine addition to releases such as 7th Plain’s “Four Cornered Room” that veer between ambient and techno, nestling comfortably in both camps.

It’s also an updated version of a limited vinyl release that came out in 2009 with extended tracks, making a total of 17 in all. Roswell Return is mysterious Dutch artist L. van Zaltbommel, who, although someone we know very little about apart from his obvious love of analogue equipment, extracts some intriguing live ambient jams for this piece. (and no, it’s not Danny Wolfers)  As one might expect from the artists’ name, there’s something of a cosmic theme to the proceedings, with titles such as “Sea of Tranquility” and the more oblique “IFTODEX C0001”. 

Although very much an ambient album with a number of atmospheric tracks, there’s a raw sensation to many of the compositions on here that echo early Detroit Techno records. “A Goldback Vibe” combines the eerie vision of Tangerine Dream with the cosmic industry of Jeff Mills without needing to add a beat, whereas “Behind the Light” and “Probe 2” recall the spasming semaphore dub of Basic Channel. “Translunar“  is similar to Theo Parrish in its deliberately lo-fi approach and you can imagine can Zaltbommel hunched over his MPC hypnotised by the frequencies coming from his machines. 

It’s these warped excursions that provide “Probe” with its strength, breaking up the narrative of ambient melodies with what feels like a proper ambient album, where melody and emotion swirl around you often returning, but never to its detriment. “R-Birth” has the definite watermark of those halcyon times in the mid-90’s when techno and ambient mingled and merged together without detriment.

Although the cosmic theme that “Probe” travels through is a little too well documented by predecessors, there’s an individual charm to it that makes it worth discovering.

Toby Frith


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