Authentik is a French act formed by Jocelyn Jaigirdar and Stéphane Hoareau, better known from their Three Point Turn project. Appearing on the scene in 1999, they were instrumental in defining the more techno-influenced aesthetic that was to become the main focus of psychedelic trance production in the divisive years of the millennium. Preamplified is designed to showcase the deadly techtrance style that made them famous, and as a bonus, the last half of the album is a diverse and experimental array of cinematic downtempo treats. Whereas the first batch of tunes are composed in a hard style similar to that of Midi Miliz and The Delta, the remainder sounds very little like anything else in the field of psychedelic trance.
The first six songs of Preamplified are expressed in a tortured lexicon of scrap metal and industrial waste. The production technique seldom differs: every track is a brutal collage of rattling percussion and heavily distorted drums. There are absolutely no melodies of any kind to be heard—this portion of the album relies entirely on crushing rhythms and abrasive metallic atmospheres.
The Fifth Colour establishes the mood with a stormy opening, a hollow kick, and numerous distorted sound effects. Solid provides the best example of Authentik’s heavy techno style, grinding out streamlined rhythms, jagged riffs, and killer drops punctuated by a lethally distorted kick drum. The martial cadence of A 10 is soulless and repetitive, but that’s the whole idea. Métaldust continues in the same vein, occasionally drifting off into the realm of cinematic horror. Airline and Hambourg Fever rehash familiar territory already covered by the previous tunes.
After the rigid conformity of the first half, the unbridled creativity of the last five tracks is astounding. Marakas features a hip blend of old school breakbeats, seventies-style funk bass lines, jazz flute, and a spaghetti western theme of some kind. Preamplified Dub takes a sinister turn, integrating some of the distorted sound of the first half of the album while slick breakbeat loops and evocative female vocals spice it up. Opératik is a stunning fusion of apocalyptic downtempo beats and spine-tingling male and female vocals; easily my favourite from the last half of the album. The Horning is a haunting continuation of the distorted dub themes heard thus far; killer beats and an extremely precise use of a horned instrument lends this work considerable power. Air, much like Marakas, is a jaunt back in time to the silver screens of yesteryear. Perhaps more than any of the others, this song has the feel of a film score; the soaring orchestral elements, warbling instrumental flourishes, and “ethnic” samples lend it a worldly mystique.
Preamplified proves to be a highly intriguing if polarized piece of work. The relentless sense of oppression that dominates the first half is completely unlike the rather intriguing cinematic explorations of the second but I happen to enjoy both sides. Definitely different from the norm, but if you’re looking for conventional psytrance, you won’t find it here. If you have a taste for hard techno, downbeat, and trip-hop, be sure to seek this one out.