Sander Van Doorn – Super Naturalistic

Sander Ketelaars needs no introduction. Already a superstar DJ and world-class producer, the 29 year old has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame over the last four years and has just released his debut long player on his own label. Before the album was released, most ITMers will no doubt have heard, and probably own several tracks from the CD. This is perhaps Supernaturalistic’s biggest curse.

Riff and By Any Demand have been around for almost a year, and have become permanent fixtures in record boxes worldwide. The initial impact of the coarse swampy refrain of Riff has long since dulled, and in its cropped reincarnation on the album already seems a piece of nostalgia. In its original format and on a great system, Riff is an untouchable, crisp bomb but I can’t help but think that it was released six months too early. By Any Demand suffers a similar fate, and positioned immediately after Riff on the album, it is even more apparent that it is a less original, more irritating expression of the same idea.

An album dominated by deep, dark techno that’s interspersed with filthy refrains and high-pitched white noises, Supernaturalistic opens paradoxically with the gorgeous spacey Look Inside Your Head, a haunting atmospheric piece of progressive techno that builds steadily before falling back into a Siberian breakdown. 15 begins as a driving tech track with clashing unnerving cymbals and echoes, breaking suddenly into a simple melodic refrain in the style of Faithless’s trancier moments (think God is a DJ, Tarantula etc). While Pura Vida is another tremendous peaktime track, which balances a damp squelchy bassline with an insistent underlying synth before interjecting an uncomplicated chime chord.

Sander continues to surprise with the rolling progressive tech of Sushi, a funky bubbling ride with a superb ticking padded drum. Dropping the tempo further, Lobby is a quality production with a soft breakbeat and upbeat piano melody, a rich and gorgeous film score which leaves me wanting more. Apple is one of the album’s more unpredictable moments, an intricate dynamic piece of techno which is one the highlights on a very good release. Futuristic, twangy and vibrant this one is a definite grower.

Sander’s minimal techno influences were apparent in wobbly tech-trancer Grasshopper’s menacing synth and silent breakdown and they resurface again in the pairing of Dozer and The Bass. The latter is pretty much self-explanatory, a dark mid-set number with a rich bassline and sparse tones which almost maims my speakers. Dozer is more diverse, layering an old-skool organ over acidic Amiga SFX and heavy bottom lines. It’s pretty safe to say that this pair will be putting some systems under severe examination over the next six months.

Outrospective is a frustrating track, an absolutely sublime score which ends the album on an optimistic, human note. The track is such a wonderful progressive piece that I wanted it to carry on for more than it’s two-and a half minutes, to see just how proggy Sander could go. Instead, the track ends with a redundant and uninteresting four minute spoken sample. There is also room on the album for a couple of treats – a forgettable hidden track as well as Sander’s remix of the wonderfully named The Girl You Lost to Cocaine from Adelaide’s own Sia. A peaktime tech-trance interpretation which is synthy, dark and funky, this is Sander at his best.

Supernaturalistic is an album of contrasts. It pits catchy mainstream riffs (pun intended) with unpredictable introspective prog. Dark wrestles with light, white noise with euphoric melody. In terms of an artist album, Supernaturalistic sits impressively in the upper bracket in the trance market, and comfortably close to it’s techno counterparts. More of a fine collection of tracks than a great album, and sounding like Mike Oldfield bashing pieces of twisted metal in an aircraft hanger, Supernaturalistic is definitely worth a listen.