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Royal Sapien – Drive [Proton Music]


Ben Mautner is the epitome of the modern renaissance producer: establishing outlets and personas to direct an array of creative talents from his New York home. Responsible for the creative direction of Proton Radio and its innovative artwork, Ben’s work under his Royal Sapien production guise is unparalleled. Head of the Conquer and Olaris imprints, the latter has spawned almost 250 releases in its own right. Add to that, celebrated appearances on John Digweed’s “Transitions” show, productions featured on Black Hole, Looq, Fade and a variety of guest vocal appearances, then there is no better time to reignite the Royal Sapien engines on Proton Music with the release of his exceptional “Drive” EP, featuring remixes from Nick Stoynoff and Antix.

The original is a huge rocket fuelled affair propelled by a distorted bass line that drives the track forward, accompanied by a broken beat and glittering arpeggio full of emotive hope and unique cadence. A chorus of pads add further layers of melodic texture as five-and-a-half minute pass in the blink of the proverbial eye.

Born in the home of US house music, Chicago based Nick Stoynoff has earned his production stripes with over 100 productions and remixes for Black Hole, Mango Alley and Particles. Further work as A&R head for Solarstone’s Molecule imprint has further enhanced a glowing reputation. A Proton Music regular, 2012 proved a bumper year for the young American with his “Berlin Dream” EP causing significant waves among the DJ fraternity and subsequently leading to three Teutonic themed remix EPs with work from Scotty.A, Colourblock and Tim Penner. In keeping with his fondness for “proper prog” and inspiration borne from nature, nicotine and caffeine, Stoynoff’s remix is full of the “driving atmospheric themes” that propel his sound. A rolling, cascading rhythm in conjunction with sub-strata bass line, form the basis for layer upon layer of manipulated texture to weave their unrelenting magic across an epic and emotional soundscape, broken only by a simple piano motif of elegant poignancy. This is classic Stoynoff.

From their Auckland home, Strom brothers Hayden and Barton have formed a considerable reputation for themselves under their trio production guises of Triangle, Fiord and Antix. It is under this latter moniker that the New Zealanders have seen a galaxy of works signed to Movement, Plusquam and the full-length “Cavalier” and “Wanderers” albums featuring on the Danish imprint, Iboga. Furthermore, the recent “Another Day” with Tim Richards on Pespectives Digital pushed the bar even further for the duo featuring a celebrated remix from Andre Sobota. Taking to their “creative playground” to remix Royal Sapien, the Antix interpretation of “Drive” is a deeply cool, groove-spun gem. Revelling in a barrage of ticking hi-hats and percussive elements, a beautiful melodic counterpoint is crafted from the original Royal arpeggio. An innovative-pitched variation is then layered atop to match the creativity the Antix brothers crave.

Supporting roles from Nick Stoynoff and Antix have driven the creative talents of Royal Sapien full throttle to produce an EP of quality. Three very different mixes. The original is superb here and with the Antix remix already receiving support from John Digweed, it’s not hard to hear why.


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