For all its storied whoosh and drive, techno derives a lot of its effect from moving at different speeds at the same time: As a kick-drum sets a steady pattern at the base, hi-hats snap fast overhead, snares bang in the middle, melodies touch down or traipse along. It's the kind of interplay that makes good techno especially good "listening music"; the ear has lots of different options for focal points.
It's also the kind of interplay that Mikkel Metal plies to masterful effect on Victimizer, an album that gathers many of the ideas at work in the contemporary techno project led by the beloved German label Kompakt. Metal won't be mistaken for a maverick—nothing on Victimizer resists being roped off as familiar techno with a pronounced liking for the spatial trickery of dub—but his patience and subtle touch are unique nonetheless. "Rain" sets the tone early with a heavy march sealed in a vacuum whose lack of gravity gives little taps and ticks the weight of bigger beats. The phenomenon takes hold as a strange guitar-like sound drifts out from the center, a haunting figure that lurks by suggestion even before it's heard. Victimizer is full of such moments: "Hemper" trolls at a mid-tempo pace made busy by static and hum suspended just out of range, and tracks with ghostly vocals like "Victimizer" make one wonder what could be more human than a lone voice lost in an electronic sound that begs off its yearning for communion.
Victimizer's unswerving tone allows for little singularity. Instead, "highlight" moments are woven deep into the fabric stretched from beginning to end. It's techno concerned less with jumping out and more with inviting listeners to jump in.