Jeff Mills said nearly a decade ago that techno is being made for an aging audience. Regardless of whether this is true or not, what happens when the artists themselves start to get older - can they maintain their relevance? In the case of Mark 'Claro Intelecto' Stewart, the answer to this conundrum is simple; go back to your roots. The Manchester producer may have settled down, but creatively, Second Blood shows that he's as dynamic as ever. "Heart" marks a return to the first Claro Intelecto album, Neurofibro or the more understated sections of its successor, Metanarrative, with an atmospheric, ambient soundtrack gently unfolding, populated by muffled, half-heard vocals. The title track sees Stewart pick up the pace, but although the underlying bassline has a dark, resonating edge to it, the tempo is sluggish and the chords flutter about in a way that suggests the producer is seeking to tease out new directions for his sub-heavy techno. "Voyeurism" has no such ambitions, but sounds all the better for it; like the best tracks from the Warehouse Sessions series, its bass plays the central role, a fathomic, all-encompassing series of tones that steers the plaintive melodies on an irresistibly evocative path. Sometimes to stay ahead of the curve, you first need to take a few steps back.
Hiroaki Iizuka starts this EP with the insane tempos of the title track. Sounding like Woody McBride jacked up on angel dust, Blue Box was probably made on analogue equipment, something that becomes apparent as the unpredictable sequencing gives way to wild acid lines. By contrast, "VC7" very much defines measured, controlled precision; based on broken beats and steely drums, its robotic swing is as impressive as the hard-sequencing unpredictability of Blue Box. However, the most impressive track here is label owner Exium's remix of "VC7". Moving from relentless broken beats into dark, metallic rhythms, its analogue percussive licks mean that the Spanish producer has adeptly united the best of both worlds.