John Norman – Withdrawal Review by Alvaro Sandoval
I was lucky enough to have discovered John Norman while his “Obsession With Sound” podcast was still on air. At Movement Festival in Detroit during Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson‘s amazing B2B set, I still couldn’t escape the reach of John’s influence as they played his track “313”. This time around, the Detroit-influenced Canadian native brings us his new single Withdrawal, which came out just late September on Todd Terry‘s Terminator Records. On the first listen, I already knew I wanted to review this track for My Cup of Tech.
Typically, I like to demo tracks on a few sets of headphones that I’ve come to love throughout my years of studio work and expensive Techno enthusiasm (ok, so it’s more like an infatuation that borders the realm of necessity). However, for Withdrawal, I had different plans in mind. No headphones. “This track is calling out for my studio speakers”, I thought to myself. I want to feel the rumble of the opening bass knocks, and, sure enough, I had to stop the track for a second because I could’ve sworn someone was pounding at the door. Sure enough, after checking the door and making sure no angry neighbors were about, I sat myself back down, pressed play, and continued the track’s hypnosis-inducing style that John Norman is known for.
Thirty seconds in, the well-executed rolling bassline is reinforced with shaker hits in matching rhythm, while a sonar-like atmosphere fills the surrounding space. Additional layers of soft, distorted elements are added as the track progresses, and by the 2:30 mark, it’s full on sweaty warehouse vibes. These lead in to one of my favourite aspects of Norman’s signature productions: an unprecedented build that explodes into a reverb vortex, transporting you into a cavernous dimension. You can then feel the track pull you in with such a force, that you travel through mental space back into the opening warehouse as you suddenly snap back into reality. The tension is released with a long gasp of white noise as momentum retains for a second time around. This time, the ride cymbals drive the track into a relentless pulse of bass and syncopation of percussion right through to the end of the almost six minute experience.
In a pre-release interview, John admitted that he wrote the track after having gone through a difficult personal time but has now put that in the past and is in new spaces, mentally, and creatively.
One of my favourite things about great techno tracks – including this one – is when the music calls on the listener to shift focus between pushed back, more delicate features and the collective melody of the combined elements. This track delivers on all fronts.
Grab your copy from Beatport here!
In a pre-release interview, John admitted that he wrote the track after having gone through a difficult personal time but has now put that in the past and is in new spaces, mentally, and creatively. The use of these feelings in the track are reinforced in its tension and release moments of transportive atmosphere. This begs the question: who or what was he having a Withdrawal from? I don’t wish him any more of the type of feelings he encountered leading up to the creation of Withdrawal, but I do hope that his persona is injected with a long lasting dose of creativity and style in which he found whilst in those moments. If this release is any indicator of what the Canadian Techno icon is about to do, prepare for a slew of bangin’ releases, hopefully an album too.
The use of these feelings in the track are reinforced in its tension and release moments of transportive atmosphere. This begs the question: who or what was he having a Withdrawal from?
Oh, what I would give to be a raver on the wall of his upcoming gig at My Cup of Tech x ADE Network Event. Don’t miss out on Friday, October 20th when My Cup of Tech invites John Norman alongside a dynamic program of music and guest speakers at their ADE Network Event.