Ixïan marks the first release of LA-based label Venaeform Records’ creator on debut EP Unlike Us, an experimental techno project from label head Spheric, which sprawls into a downward spiral of an industrial nightmare. Opening track “The Perilous Crossing” unsettles your mood from the beginning with glitch inflictions, a thumping beat, and a bassline that sounds like power lines eroding all at once. Initially, it might be somewhat jarring on a first listen, but Ixïan captures that sense of dread and panic in all six songs.
One of the first noticeable aspects of Ixïan‘s music is the constant buildup around the EBM beats. The title track, “Unlike Us,” pulses through hi-hats and sounds of what could be mistaken for a swarm of incoming bees. At first, the song seems to be a significant switch-up and is much more danceable than anything else on the EP, staying true to its name. But eventually, Ixïan spreads the underlying eerieness as the runtime progresses, transitioning the track from a club to a dungeon.
On the other hand, “The Horns of Udra” trades any sign of pleasant noises for hacksaws grinding against each other as ominous vocals roar around you. There’s something uniquely disturbing created by hearing vaguely human sounds straying too far into the uncanny valley. Similarly, “Mahdi” and its remix from Nordstaat make for an enclosing experience that sends you running down a dark corridor.
Ixïan never fails to create a haunting atmosphere that becomes more and more haunting with each passing track. More than any other track, “Demons To Some” is unrelenting in its abrasive attitude. The effect is deeply unsettling, possibly even anxiety-inducing. I think the only way I could describe the feeling Unlike Us embodies is like a spider crawling up your spine, forcing you to move either in fear or simply by an unspoken bewildering sensation.
Words: David Sosa