Pop psychology alleges that the music which “intelligent” people most listen to is classical, metal, and dance music. Given that these reports invariably suggest rap and country to be the “least intelligent” branches of music, we can infer there’s some degree of racist and classist codifiers at play, but I think there’s interesting parallels to be found between The High Brow Triumvirate. Arguably more than other styles, their power and beauty is predicated on their layering and texture, the melodious or conflicting interplay of their actors; whether that’s a full orchestra, a chorus of guitars and drums, or swathes of Juno synthesisers.

Helena Hauff's second album Qualm is unabashedly simple, a drum machine and a synthesiser in a dance-off remove, sequestered from the convolutions and temptations of bigger set-ups. Its is a symphonic simplicity, operatic and cavernous but focussing each individual element – every acidic jab, every quaffing 303 pad, every militant bassline – as intimately traceable and idiosyncratic, and in mapping and expanding upon its component parts it emulates the rave’s Philharmonic; the Hamburg producer its inspired conductor.

The most salient example of this is ‘Hyper Intelligent Genetically-Enriched Cyborg,’ one of the best techno tracks of 2018 and somehow even more complicatedly cyberpunk than its name signals. Erratic bass wrangles around an orgiastically stomping acid-synth centrepiece, before an understated 4x4 kickdrum enters, then a gentle tom loop, and finally, a fluttering secondary synth and tittering hi-hats to colour in the margins; all within the first minute.

Track alchemy has always been something of Hauff’s trademark, drafted during her prolific smattering of EPs in 2013 and 2014 and consolidated by 2015’s unpolished but prodigious debut LP Discreet Desires, inoculated in monolithic organ-driver ‘Funereal Morality’ and ‘Sworn To Secrecy Part II,’ the latter’s dense patterns foreshadowing Qualm’s tightly-bound compositions. Her knotted mechanics aren’t those of cutting-edge robotics, but those of oil-spattered steam engines, lo-fi and garbled, the washing machine shaking itself into oblivion. Tumbledryer techno.

Without discrediting its very good predecessors, Qualm delivers on the nascent promise of seminal brilliance. It immediately displaces you to its industrial dimension with ‘Barrow Boot Boys,’ accelerating synth avalanches mediated by entwining percussion loops. ‘Lifestyle Guru’ is a warzone, upping both the beats per minute and the uncanny distortion, with malleable robotic shrieks circling a wavering synthline in combat with an ogre bassdrum. It’s not accurate to call it maximalistic, too conservative and earthly a term to annotate something this immersive and altering. It’s cultivating a new language. The wavering core of ‘It Was All Fields Around Here’ and the approaching synth breakdown two minutes into ‘The Smell of Suds and Steel’ are wonderfully unconscionable, probing the boundaries of melody, good taste, and for irreverence’s sake, reality itself!!

‘Entropy Created You and Me’ and ‘Primordial Sludge’ are respite-I-guess, the former’s twinklingly off-kilter synth and the latter’s squelching synth organ redolent of Grimm fairytales, superficially enchanted but goth as fuck despite their lower tempo. Curiously, the only misstep is the functional benignity of the twin title tracks, also the record’s first two advance singles. They’re conspicuously marked by their lucidity, not sounding out of place in the background blur of an All Bar One. Even at over an hour of unrelenting relentlessness Qualm never drags, the ‘Qualm’ tracks mild potholes in the interminable industrial marathon.

If Crack naming her the planet’s most exciting DJ in 2017 nominated her for Elite status, and her being the first woman DJ to win Radio 1’s Essential Mix Of The Year was corroboration, Qualm is her inauguration. Its agitated kineticism and flagrant oddness, blossoming from Hauff’s intrinsic charisma and craft, is exhilarating. It is techno gorgeously streamlined; straddling the fucking weird and the primally gratifying, as present in the grimiest tunnel raves as in soundtracking the imminent robot revolution.