by: Ellen Allien

Following Ellen Allien's back-to-basics club album Nost as well as a pair of commanding singles ("Take a Stand," "UFO"), the BPitch Control founder released Alientronic, which continues in much the same direction but ventures a bit further out of orbit. Much shorter than Nost, Alientronic is a set of focused interstellar voyages which convey a sense of mystery while delivering the requisite amount of club energy. "Empathy" begins the album with its most extraterrestrial soundscape; astral arpeggios float throughout the galaxy while a soft, sporadic pulse gradually forms. Once we're settled into this strange but inviting spot in the universe, "MDMA" introduces the propulsive dance beats, which are generally broken rather than steady. Subsequent tracks are more direct and slamming, producing a slightly more paranoid atmosphere. "Bowie in Harmony" is filled with furious thumping kick drums and frantic acid synth patterns, with Allien's shadowy vocals murmuring something about David Bowie off in the distance. As with Nost, Allien's vocals help establish the mood of the tracks, but there's no proper lyrical song structures; she seems to have left her indie-crossover days behind. Following the tense, misleadingly titled "Electronic Joy," "Exit to Humanity" is the album's most arresting moment, with suspenseful synths set to a knocking garage-like beat, and a chilling voice spelling out doom for the human race. Following the early-trance flashback "Free Society," "Stimulation" is a riveting plunge into pure electro, ending Allien's most solid full-length since the mid-2000s on a high note. ~ Paul Simpson

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