Review: Pedro Vian’s ‘Black Toms’ EP Explores the Dark and Moody Corners of Barcelona Techno

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Veteran Catalan producer Pedro Vian has earned his place in the Barcelona electronic music scene by releasing music under the Pettre alias and as one half of the duo Aster. Both of these projects have seen the light of day through labels like John Talabot’s Hivern Discs, but this time around, Vian decided to take the lead. He delivers his latest EP Black Toms via his own Modern Obscure Music imprint.

The cover art, the label name, and the EP title hint at how the music will sound before we even play any of it. The two original tracks included here are dark and moody, but Vian somehow manages to retain the danceable quality of the main genre he explores: techno. “Cops de Cap” exemplifies this best, with its cold and reverb-heavy sequenced beat surrounded by clouds of synths that get more and more distorted as the song progresses, all under a chord progression reminiscent of coldwave. “Black Toms,” on the other hand, cranks up the BPMs a little, subtly introducing Vian’s house influences after over a minute of ambient harmony. In comparison, this track is a lot more luminous than the previous one, with a broader use of hi-hats and white noise washes.

To complete the EP, Pedro Vian added remixes of those two tracks by like-minded English producers Pye Corner Audio and Inga Copeland. The former reinterpreted “Cops de Cap,” laying it bare and creating a nervous and loopy techno landscape. Then, the former Hype Williams member destroys “Black Toms” at her will. She takes away the beat and creates a crushed atmosphere that goes on for some time before morphing into a bizarre, rolled-off punk moment.