Yagya ‘Rigning’ (Sending Orbs, 2009)

Is dub techno having a resurgence? Did it ever really go away? Producers Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus got together in the early 1990s and formed Basic Channel, an act and label credited with developing the genre (along with their sub-label Chain Reaction). Since then, there have been plenty of cornerstone left-field, psychedelic techno releases in the last two decades that fall somewhere under the dub techno umbrella. Some of these standouts, such as Monolake’s ‘Hongkong’ and Voices From The Lake’s self-titled debut, have been the subject of recent reissues, suggesting that listeners both new and old continue to be drawn to these hypnotic, slowly unfurling sound worlds.

Slowly unfurling is one way to describe ‘Rigning’, the stunning 2009 long-player from Yagya (Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson). But anyone already familiar with the album will most likely associate it with rain. ‘Rigning’ is the Icelandic word for rain, and we’re awash with it here, as Guðmundsson’s field recordings of precipitation are incorporated into every track. The constant flow of drizzle, downpour and stormy rumbles becomes a central sonic narrative, as rhythmic and integral as the dubby grooves, ambient interludes and sweeping, atmospheric pads.

Listening to an album about dismal weather might sound like a bleak way to spend an hour, but the beautiful thing about ‘Rigning’ is how comforting it is. Structured as one long track split into 10 separate movements, each chapter reveals subtle hidden details. The whirr of crickets on the opener, ‘Rigning Einn’, the bleep of car horns distantly squabbling in traffic on ‘Rigning Fjórir’, the grumble of thunder throughout ‘Rigning Sjö’ – each of these details paints a cinematic picture of a city ebbing and flowing. It’s the feeling of watching rain slide down the window pane, while you’re curled up warm and cosy inside with nowhere urgent to be. Even the arrival of the most climactic track, the hopeful ‘Rigning Níu’, can’t break the meditative spell.

A reissue of ‘Rigning’ on Delsin in 2018 further cemented the timeless charms of the album that Guðmundsson has perhaps become most well-known for. It’s a record that anyone with even a passing interest in dub techno should hear, just to experience that cleansing feeling of calm after the storm – with no raincoat required.

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