The Frikstailers return with strong, soul-liberating techno on “Extrasolar”

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Frikstailers are an Argentinian duo based in Mexico that makes dance hall techno music infused with other elements from Latin America. Frikstailers have been around for a while and it shows. They know their way around a techno album. “Extrasolar,” the new album by Frikstailers, is about as proficient as a techno album gets.

There’s something to be said for music, books, and movies that nail a genre in a critical and sincere way. Frikstailers have done that with  “Extrasolar.”

Here are a few things the Frikstailers do well across the album: They don’t overstay their welcome. Good techno albums become bad ones by riding two or three good loops four minutes longer than they had any right to. The average “Extrasolar” track is about three and a half minutes long and doesn’t drag or cut off too soon.

They have great contrasting themes. That might sound like something from a high school teacher, but it’s useful here. Frikstailers consistently use a mix of space-age and traditional sounds in ways that bring out the best elements of both. They do it so routinely that it feels like two clashing themes across the album and makes the whole thing feel more cohesive and interesting.

They keep a good sense of mood. “Extrasolar” has a consistent dreamy feeling, but there is a variety within that with some tracks hitting harder and others going a softer route. There are sentimental moments and hyped up moments and it all fits pretty well. Tracks like “Brinca” had flashes of Bomba Estereo while “Telotihuán” sounded more like Pendulum’s “Hold Your Colour” than anything I’ve heard in a while. For any non-techno fans, that’s a pretty big compliment.

However, “Extrasolar” does lose some value after a few listens. While some tracks have a solid amount of depth and little, hidden sounds to find, I felt some of the main beats and loops got duller after a few listens. That said, I think this is common to techno and it’s something you take with the genre if you like it. Heavily repeated beats hurt a song on the replay but they also help create a mesmerizing sound you can both zone out and dance to. While techno doesn’t have to have that tradeoff, it can be really hard to avoid it.

Frikstailers do a good enough job of keeping tracks different from one another and transitions between beats sharp enough that “Extrasolar” is still a great techno album. The repetition also lends a sense of spirituality to the album by making songs feel more like a ritual dance or chant. That fits very well with Frikstailer’s general mix of spacey and traditional sounds.

While they nail their mood and theme pretty well and no track sounds bad, some tracks are underwhelming compared to others. “Bungalow” is a solid laid back track but it does feel like “Cosmic Address,” “Extrasolar,” and “Last Chance” capture a similar mood but with more interesting transitions, sounds, and beats. Similarly, “El Mito” was solid but got outpaced by “Brinca” and “Heridas.” “Brinca” hit a lot harder, using some reggaeton-ish elements to make a mean drop, and the vocals in “Heridas” are just better than in “El Mito.”

Some of this is criticizing the Frikstailers for their success, as “Heridas” and “Brinca” are both standout tracks. “Heridas” features incredible Argentinian singer La Yegros and “Brinca” is one of the band’s more heavily considered tracks. These are the two tracks I’ll return to most often and the two tracks that best represent the album as a whole.

“Heridas” covers the smoother, more traditional Argentinian sound “Extrasolar” goes for. It’s effortlessly smooth despite having a super unique up-and-down rhythm. Frikstailers and La Yegros pair together super well on the track and bring out better parts in each other’s sounds. It made me want to hear them collaborate more.

“Brinca” covers the harder dance hall elements and the modern spiritual aspects the band likes. The track has smoother, lower tempo sections to it but on the whole, it hits hard and wants to get you moving. It has a classic EDM drop that springboards from a strong vocalization of the title (“BRINCA!”) that’s a lot of fun.

It’s also an important track for the band. They call it “an anthem for international liberation” and said they wanted to make “something hard-hitting that would be great for the dance floor but that at the same time could awaken something within each person listening to it.” You could feel that general energy without knowing the Spanish needed to understand the lyrics but the lyrics make it clearer that the band is calling for you to recognize your mortality and jump out of the skin you’re in.

“Extrasolar” left me feeling pretty satisfied. There are underwhelming elements but the high spots on the album more than make up for them. The entire album comes together well and creates a consistent spiritual vibe that keeps you intrigued and gets you moving. It’s a  proficient dance hall techno album that utilizes traditionally Latin American beats and styles well. If that’s what you’re about then you’ll probably like what the Frikstailers are doing.

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