Sound of the Week: Valerie Ace

Intrepid Skin returns with its most outspoken, outlandish release yet. SPFDJ’s tastemaking imprint is proud to introduce ‘Glitzer Vs Hass’, the debut release from German artist, Valerie Ace. Unrelenting but utterly charismatic across four tracks, Ace blends her lived experience intertwined with today’s increasingly complex politics of club culture with a thirst for experimentation, unpicking and subverting the strains of toxic masculinity that still run deep through contemporary culture. This is first-rate dancefloor discourse with little room for chin-stroking.

Opening track ‘Glucose Guardian’ signals Ace’s intent, a hard but loveable twist on peak-time techno tropes, it’s relentlessness underpinned by granular synthesis that seems to coax a chorus of synthetic angels (the track takes its name from a meme providing a gender-flip on the rather less loveable ‘Sugar Daddy’ trope). “Listen up fives, a ten is speaking”, affirms the voice heard on ‘Lavender Ceiling’, a call to open-arms for dance music’s entrenched queer community, still subject to micro and macro-agressions in supposedly ‘safe’ spaces. Musically this translates to what Ace refers to as “Dystopian Disney”, drawing parallel lines between tenderness and absurdity.

‘Sweaty Syrup’ is a ruthless amalgamation of acid modulations and entangled synthesis, a something’s-not-quite-right atmosphere gleefully unnerving dancers, while keeping them hooked with flawless, pounding drum play. Finally, ‘Hyper Hyper Dancy Hardcore’ submits to the ridiculous promise of its title with a breathless finale that showcases Ace’s ability to deliver function and pure fun. Leaving a strong final impression this Rotterdam-rooted hardcore anthem provides all the thrills but thoughtfully dispenses with the macho bullshit, its central vocal constantly shifting in pitch and context. Driven by the energy and outrageousness that has come to define her scene, yet smartly subverting and experimenting with it, ‘Glitzer Vs Hass’ sees Valerie Ace enter the contemporary techno landscape with passion, humour and much-needed sonic resistance.