It wasn't until several months after it was released (and shortly into the following calendar year) that I discovered The Coldest Season, the amazing release from Echospace. On that album, the duo of Rod Modell and Steven Hitchell cranked out some of the most amazing minimal techno that I'd heard since the mind-melting Basic Channel output. Fortunately for fans of that sound, they're back already, with an extended release of a long out-of-print vinyl pressing that basically picks up where we last heard from them and zooms off in similar, but still stunning directions.
It's fortunate that they take some different directions too, because Vantage Isle Sessions is actually thirteen different cuts of the title track, rendered up by Modell and Hitchell themselves under a variety of different pseudonyms along with the a remix from Gerard Hanson (aka Convextion). Sequenced in a way that really allows the release to flow nicely, Vantage Isle Sessions tweaks the title track just about every which way in a somewhat-similar style, making for a smooth ride that dips into ambient, minimal techno, and dub. The three-part DC mixes favor 4/4 kick drums and more straightforward chord drops as they rumble along surely and steadily. Of them, "DC Mix II" is the standout, dropping into seriously stripped-down territory with only quiet melodic wanderings and the ever-present thump, thump, thump.
There are five different Echospace versions, and they're probably the most varied of the individual mixes, with the "Echospace Glacial" aptly taking on a serious droning drift, while "Echospace Spatial Dub" (which is probably the most successful) drops some watery percussion and more refracting, resonating chords over the top of yet another murky kick drum. "Cv313 Reduction" might be the most interesting version on the entire disc, with a subterranean bassline that completely growls, as clattering percussive elements and glitchy sprays take it in a bit of a different direction from a lot of the others. As a whole, it's one of those releases that doesn't have a lot of real dynamic highs, but it's so well put together that you find yourself listening to it over and over again. Modell and Hitchell are obviously masters of this sound. It would be even more interesting to hear them really push some boundaries next.