Guadalajara-born electronic music producer Kevin Martinez has been using the Niño Árbol moniker to deliver his experimental electronic creations for roughly over a year. That may sound like little time, but it’s actually quite impressive, considering that he’s only 19 years old and already sounds like a pro. After his self-titled debut album dropped last year, he’s now releasing a brand new EP called Distancia through NWLA, and it sounds like he’s finally feeling comfortable wearing his techno outfit.
Distancia opens with “La ciudad que capturó el sol,” the EP’s first single, and it immediately sets the tone for the overall techno mood found here. The acid-infused track is probably Niño Árbol at his most straightforward in these seven tracks, serving a steady beat with menacing melodic synth lines that vary just so subtly. “XXI” reveals a more delicate and austere side, but it doesn’t last too long, like a calm before the storm. Dark tones slowly creep in and finally everything bursts into a gnarly meteor shower, with rapid-fire percussion and saturation. This song is the first sign of Martinez’s ability to tell a story through dynamics, sound, and texture.
Those cinematic qualities also emerge on “Bilocación,” which runs like a techno sci-fi journey through space. He jumps back and forth between quiet, minimal spaces and saturation, and the song unravels before our ears. The title track is the centerpiece of the entire EP, and also its most ambitious moment. Clocking in at over six minutes, it features a constant percussive synth line that shifts in frequency and note length, and it runs through the whole song like a train. It shifts from the abstract to the dance-oriented, until it reaches its unexpected piano-laden finale.
“Interludio” is where Martinez explores his fascination for ambient music, mostly playing with long synth pads and strings, interrupted by bass pulses that get more and more distorted, until it finally drops into “DF.” The track is nasty, chaotic, and highly danceable, which suggests he got some inspiration from the Mexican capital itself. Closing the EP is “10,000,” a subdued tribute to house and Balearic rhythms. The sun-kissed chord synths are a breath of fresh air, and they clash with the more mechanic sounds. Then Niño Árbol changes up the rhythm just enough to keep things playful.
Niño Árbol certainly pays tribute to his techno influences, but that doesn’t mean everything he does sounds the same. Quite the contrary: he’s successful in interpreting the genre in many different and ingenious ways, revealing nothing but versatility in the process.